A tale of municipal Wi-Fi gone terribly wrong

Wow. I have an empty house sitting in a neighborhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota that’s supposed to be blanketed with solar-powered municipal Wi-Fi Internet access. The ugly brown poles were placed on just about every corner and never really worked correctly from the get-go. Well it seems like the city is fed up with its contractor, Arnic.

“We’re going to tell Arinc, ‘Come get your poles, take them out of the ground, stick them someplace where the solar panels won’t work at all,'” St. Louis Park Mayor Jeff Jacobs said. The feud between the city and Arnic has “sickened” members of the city council and Jacobs’ staff. Total losses are expected to eclipse $1 million.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune,

“In testing what Arinc had built, the city found that small portions of the network functioned well, providing a high-speed connection. But in other areas, the solar panels were placed in spots where they did not get enough light to power the radios’ batteries.

The idea of using solar power was Arinc’s, and it was one reason the company said it could offer the lowest bid to build the city’s network. Its proposal — at $1.7 million — was $700,000 less than the next lowest bidder, in part because most Wi-Fi networks rely on electrical poles, and renting that space and power is expensive.”

The city is now deciding whether to start over with a different contractor or give up on the project altogether. Doing so could run expenses into the $3 million range, so the city may sue Arnic for some of the losses.

Oh and if someone would be kind enough to buy my house, I’d really appreciate it. I’m out here in Boston and the double bills each month are really starting to sting.

Solar Wi-Fi service won’t see light of day [Star Tribune]