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Q&A STEVE ALEXANDER
Just so that nobody has the impression that this service is not working -- I've signed up (and I waited until after the trees had opened up in order to be sure it would work in the summer) and we love it. (When I have the computer do a site survey, it shows that it's seeing about 7 or 8 wireless access points from USI, at least 4 of which are at a high-strength level at any one time. So, they must have done a good job in my hood.) After a month of keeping my old service around just in case, I cancelled the old service. Net net net, I'm going to be saving about $20 a month vs my old DSL service (and getting about 3 times the download bandwidth). I'm very happy.
For the first week or so, it didn't seem like it would work. Customer service was terrific once I decided to call them(!), and the worked some magic right from their facility, told me to turn the modem around, and when that still didn't do it all, the sent me an extra antenna. Once that arrived, I received more than the 3 Mpbs I'd signed up for, so I asked for and was able to receive the 6 Mps package. Paying yearly, that's $23.95 a month with the best customer service I've ever received also. What a great city-private business partnership. Thanks Minneapolis and USI.
This is just the beginning. Wait until they get more than 7 customers attached to a single access point. They will receive the same issues that all wifi cities receive. Mainly, they will never get the 3mb that they paid for, but closer to 786kbs.
The system worked in the winter, but in late May it stopped. Customer service said it was related to leaves, and strung me along for three weeks until I found out that I was at the end of a node with too few people on it so they hadn't done anything to resolve the problem. Got my money back. Very unsatisfied.
I have two antennas just outside my window on light poles. One not 50 feet away and the other not 75. My reception is horrible and many days the USI Wireless log-in page doesn't even load. And, does it seem odd to anyone that while it's "wireless" service you have to plug your computer in to the receiver they make you rent for $5 per month? Doesn't make a laptop very mobile when it's still plugged in.
I had terrible reception and USI offered to come out to my house and optimize my signal. People should ask them to if they don't offer but they offered immediately for me. In my case, they added an antenna to the outside of my house (it's small and mounted in an unobtrusive place and they nicely caulked the hole they had to drill through). I'm now getting the 3mbps that they promised.
Even though I've got stucco siding, I actually can get a weak connection to their hub down on the corner. For a good wireless connection in my house, I set up my wireless router--the USI guys even talked me through that even though they say don't help with in house wireless.
Overall, I'm happy and will be dumping Comcast within the month--after I switch to satellite TV as well. It's nice to have a choice of vendors again!
Switched to wireless in May. Have had to play around a bit to pick the best location for the antenna/router, but the service has been faster and more reliable than the DSL service available in my neighborhood that cost twice as much. I can see from the comments it's not been the same experience for everyone, but if you're reading this wondering if you should try it - give it a shot.
The story printed is a misrepresentation of our situation (Dan and Kari Dahlstrom). We were never told of issues with leaves or with radio interference. I think that must have been in the reporter's notes from another interview. We signed up for the service in March (no leaves on the trees). The service NEVER worked on weekends and sparsely on weeknights. We called and e-mailed weekly and after months (June)finally got someone to come out to our house -- we were told we would be charged for the visit but finally convinced USIW not to charge us because of the poor or no service for 4 months. We actually paid out of our own pocket to have the Geek Squad come out because of lack of service from USIW. From July 2-12 we had absolutely no service because a node needed to be replaced and it took them more than 10 days to do so, which still didn't improve the service. This was the most frustrating experience we have ever had with a service provider of any kind. USIW was completely inept. We wanted the service (not a refund for service that didn't work) had signed up for a two year plan and were extremely disappointed. Now we are additionally disappointed by the Star Tribune reporter's agenda of printing a positive story and misrepresenting the facts.
in Mpls oldest neighborhood, Marcy-Holmes (southeast), and less than two miles from City Hall.
Many, many postponements and no ETA. Shameful.
Initially, I had to get a USI techie to come out and install an antenna on the outside of my house to get connectivity to a node at the end of my block. I also lost about 5 weeks during the spring. My service has been working for the last 6 weeks or so. Bandwidth isn't great (@0.5 Mb/s) but still a better value than DSL.
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