City holding open houses on the wireless broadband network

The city is holding a series of open houses for people interested in learning more about the city's wireless initiative.

The workshops will give participants an opportunity to give city leaders feedback on what community benefits should be included in the contract with the winning Internet service provider. One of the key goals of the network is to bridge the digital divide among tech-savvy residents and those who lack access to the Internet and other computer resources.

Meetings will be held May 3 at the Waite House, 2529 13th Ave. S., in South Minneapolis and May 9 at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S. in Southwest.

Both open houses will be held 6-8 p.m. Additional meetings are expected to follow these sessions (check the city's Web site: www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/wirelessminneapolis for future dates).

The City Council voted in February to allow city officials to move forward with negotiations with two private vendors competing to build the high-speed wireless Internet network.

The vote came despite some concerns about the city's ownership model. Under the current plan, the city would serve as the anchor tenant on the network and own the fiber-optic infrastructure, according to city officials.

The finalists for the wireless broadband contract are Atlanta-based Earthlink and Minnetonka-based US. Internet.

Once up and running, the network will blanket the city with a Wi-Fi cloud - making wireless Internet access available anywhere in the city for residents and businesses.