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USI Wireless page on DSLReports
Six Month Rating Unavailable
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Reviews:
bullet 10 reviews (4 good) (4 bad)
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Review by ccode See Profile

  • Location: Minneapolis,Hennepin,MN
  • Cost: $23 per month (12 month contract)
  • Install: about 5 days
Good "Cheapest Broadband in town, with yearly contract"
Bad "Occasional random dropouts"
Overall "Best bargain, but not the fastest or most reliable"
Pre Sales Information:
Install process:
Connection reliability:
Tech Support:
Value for money:

My Other Reviews

·CenturyLink
I've been a customer of USI Minneapolis Wireless Broadband for more than a year now and it has become considerably more reliable as time has gone on. After the first year I upgraded my service from 3Mbps to 6Mbps and have been quite pleased with the upgrade. When performing long downloads I can still see random, short outages occur, but this is infrequent and it rarely lasts more than a minute. Speed does vary with time of day, and thus is subject to the load of others sharing the network. In off hours though, I can definitely hit 6Mb with no probs. U/L is pretty steady at just below 1Mb. I have had no occasion to call their service line in the last 8 months, so I can offer no comment on their support other than that it has not been necessary to use it.

Note that I am directly across the street from the nearest wireless node and have an uninterrupted line of sight between the Ruckus router and their antenna. I have spoken to a number of nearby neighbors who live in the middle of their blocks who have not been successful in acquiring a good signal, so your mileage may vary significantly from mine. But for those of us for whom the service works well, it is a very good bargain considering the cost of the other broadband options available.

member for 10.2 years, 735 visits, last login: 163 days ago
updated 5 years ago

Comments:

Review by nels1678 See Profile

  • Location: Minneapolis,Hennepin,MN
  • Cost: $35 per month (month by month)
Good "Cheap, reasonably fast, stable once setup correctly"
Bad "Can slow down/fail if there is interference, no static IPs, and NAT"
Overall "Worth Getting"
Pre Sales Information:
Install process:
Connection reliability:
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Value for money:

Short Summary:

Works surprisingly well given that the nearest antenna is two blocks away with garages and trees in the way. I'm using a ruckus modem with a 6db gain directional antenna sitting on a window frame on our first floor. Fastest speed I've gotten so far is about 700KB/s down and about 40-50KB/s up with most downloads operating in the 300-400KB/s region. Ping times are around 100ms to big sites. Originally I had problems with my wireless access point interfering with the Ruckus modem but changing the channel from 9 to 3 (anything under 7 should be sufficient) dramatically improved throughput. Tech Support was slow (took 15 minutes to talk to someone) but excellent once I got through. I'm a bit nervous how the trees might affect the signal once the leaves fill in, but currently am pleased with the service. There are no static IPs with the service, and you are stuck with an internal IP address with (seemingly) no port forwarding options. Despite this, it's excellent service for the price and a valid option for most people.

Full Review:

Like many of you that are reading this review, I had been considering trying Minneapolis Wifi for a while, but was nervous about many of the problems early adopters were having with the service. Many years ago I was on Qwest DSL. When I moved into my house we got Roadrunner cable, and eventually that turned into Comcast.

Let me begin by telling you why I wanted to get away from Comcast. First, when they took over for Roadrunner in Minnesota, they promised rates wouldn't increase. Two months later they changed their tune and increased our bill by $15 to roughly $60/month. Second, they started interfering with bit torrent traffic causing all kinds of problems (which is how World of Warcraft amongst other services distribute software updates). Third, they started having recurring problems with their AT&T backbone which caused major slowdowns and made it impossible to play online games. Forth, they are in bed with the RIAA who have sued and intimidated far too many innocent people for me to even indirectly support them.

So finally, after much delay and complaining about Comcast, I finally decided to give Minneapolis WIFI a try. Unfortunately our house is located about two blocks from either of the nearest antennas and so the woman I spoke to on the phone said it was possible we might not be able to get the 6Mbit/s service. If not, they would either give us a full refund or allow us to downgrade to a lower speed service. I ordered the 6Mbit/s service on a monthly basis as a trial.

A technician was scheduled to come out to our house about 5 days later. He came on time and was quite knowledgeable about the product and how to get a good signal. After some fussing with the ruckus modem and trying different antennas, he was able to get roughly 5Mbit/s which I agreed was good enough given where our house is located in relation to the street antenna. I noticed after he left that he had broken the electrical outlet plug he had removed to plug the modem in and had left the pieces laying on the floor without telling us. Normally this wouldn't have been a big deal, but we have a 19 month old infant in the house. Small plastic pieces like that are a major choking hazard. A shame because otherwise he did a great job.

After he left I set about getting our home network set up again including our wireless access point. Between our stucco walls and the distance to the Minneapolis WIFI antenna, none of our wireless devices are able to directly connect to the Minneapolis system. Instead, I have our wireless access point connected to the Ruckus modem and have our devices connect to that just like we did with Comcast.

After getting everything set up, I noticed that the throughput was much lower than what the technician was getting. I was getting anywhere from 500Kbit/s to 1Mbit/s down, and about 380Kbit/s up. I called tech support and had to wait on hold for 15 minutes before getting to talk to someone. Once I finally got through it was much better. The tech knew his stuff and was able to check and see that my access point and the Ruckus were interfering with each other. I had forgotten that I had set the access point to channel 9 which can interfere with channel 11 which the Minneapolis WIFI operates on. You are generally safe if you are at least 5 channels away meaning that 1, 6, and 11 won't interfere with each other, while channels in between will have some overlap. I changed it to 3 and everything started working much better.

Over all the performance is decent. Ping times for major sites like google and slashdot hover around 80-100ms. Best download speed I've ever seen was about 700KB/s to the UMN ubuntu mirror, though often it's slower in the 300-400KB/s region. DSLReports flash speed test seems to fluctuate and I'm suspicious that I may still be having some signal problems, though over all it's quite usable. I'm considering buying or building a higher gain antenna and mounting it to my roof with more direct line of site to the Minneapolis Antenna. That would likely help solve any possible connectivity issues. If you are having problems you might want to try a parabolic antenna like one of the following and see if it helps improve your signal:

»www.fab-corp.com/home.php?cat=251

If you get one make sure to aim it well as these are highly directional!

The only other item worth mentioning is that there are no static IP options available, and even if you just want to run SSH or some other service on your system you are stuck with an internal NATed IP address. As far as I can tell there are no port forwarding options. If you don't know what this means you likely won't care, but it could be something to consider if you want to run your own servers. In that case, Qwest DSL service with VISI or IPHouse as the ISP might be more appropriate.

Bottom line:

If you are expecting comcast 1.5MB/s speeds you will be disappointed, but for the price it's quite reasonable and sufficient for all but the most die hard users. Personally I'm pleased with the service so far, and barring any additional problems will be buying the Modem and signing up for a longer subscription. If you've been curious about Minneapolis Wifi but have been nervous about the bad reviews, I'd suggest giving it a try. Service appears to have improved considerably compared to when some of the previous reviews were written. It's pretty risk free as you can go month to month to start out, rent the modem instead of buying it, and they'll refund your installation cost if the tech can't get a good signal. Over all I'd say it's worth getting.

member for 10.2 years, 8 visits, last login: 5.5 years ago
updated 5.5 years ago

Comments:

Review by buckyreal7 See Profile

  • Location: Minneapolis,Hennepin,MN
  • Cost: $14 per month (24 month contract)
  • Install: about 60 days
Good "Speed when working, Good value compared to DSL"
Bad "Flakes out, especially in the evening and Sunday for some reason"
Overall "Still waiting for stable connection"
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I live in a very dense neighborhood with a very large amount of private Wi-Fi networks.

I get a strong signal, it just seems that there is a lot of noise/static causing tons and tons of re-sent packets, over 80% at times. That's a lot of overhead.

There has been a couple quiet days when I got close to the 3 Megabit speed that I am supposedly signed up for.

I have given them a 1 week ultimatum to a) tell me what is causing my poor connection quality, and give me a good reason to wait for them to fix it, and FIX IT or b) disconnect my service and give me a refund.

I am on my third modem. I don't think there was anything wrong with the first two. The problem lies in some major source of radio interference in the neighborhood... a generator, a poorly shielded 1/2 broken microwave (in heavy use), a poorly configured high power Wireless N network... MTC Bus or cab radios or something!


member for 10 years, 48 visits, last login: 1.6 years ago
lodged 6.5 years ago

Comments:

Review by dyussen See Profile

  • Location: Minneapolis,Hennepin,MN
  • Cost: $19 per month (12 month contract)
  • Install: about 14 days
Good "Great Value. Better Than DSL, and Simple Setup. 24/7 Support."
Bad "Tech Support Not Helpful. Home WIFI network not supported."
Overall "Great service for your money. Support the city initiative!"
Pre Sales Information:
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Value for money:

Switched from Comcast to USI Wireless in December and gave it a try. The early users had bad experiences but improvements have come gradually. My service is not as fast as Comcast but faster than DSL. Speedtest.net avg test DL 2+Mbps/1Mbps. The tech support refused to answer any questions about home networking; when I connected Ruckus to Linksys the speed deteriorated vs hard line. But I then discovered the Ruckus has it's own WiFi Router capability built-in. You just have to turn it on and set up a pw in the Setup screen. It worked instantly and is very fast. I've only had a signal break maybe once/month on average and a router reset fixed it each time.

My opinion is your service will depend on where you live. Try it monthly and if it's good, switch to prepaid. $19/month for this compared to $43 for comcast. No comparison - plus you get to support this innovative city initiative.

member for 6.7 years, 1 visits, last login: 6.5 years ago
updated 6.5 years ago

Comments: