US Internet to offer 10 Gig in part of Minneapolis

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Where it rains, it pours. Earlier today I reported on another Star Tribune story on CenturyLink expanding services (to include cable) in the Twin Cities. Now it looks like US Internet is expanding their fiber service to some parts of Minneapolis…

The Minnetonka firm that offers fiber-optic service to about 30,000 households in southwest Minneapolis announced Tuesday that it will use that network to offer 10-gigabit-per-pecond Internet speed, which is among the fastest Internet service available today. That’s 400 times faster than the average download speed in Minnesota, 25 megabits per second, according to Ookla, an Internet diagnostic firm.

“The fastest Internet in the world is going to be here in Minneapolis starting this afternoon,” said Joe Caldwell, co-CEO of US Internet. “We’re talking about a game-changing speed.”

The service will cost $400 per month, Caldwell said. The company already offers 1-gigabit-per-second service for $65 per month to the same 30,000 households west of Interstate 35W, and plans to expand its network east of 35W, mostly to neighborhoods south of Lake Street.

“This coming summer, if you’re east of 35W, you will be able to get fiber from us,” Caldwell said. “Not everybody, but big parts of the city.”

This is great news – for some parts of Minneapolis. I’m feeling a little left out in St Paul and realizing that this won’t help my friends in East Central Minnesota at all but I still think it’s good for Minnesota. It raises the bar. Suddenly we have to think in larger numbers. In 2010, the National Broadband Plan set out to promote 100 Mbps connections to 100 million homes and 4 Mpbs (1 Mbp up) to the rest of the US. So broadband in 100 million homes is 25 times faster than in other homes by design. Now the FCC just redefined broadband as 10 Mbps – which means the discrepancy is only 10 times BUT when suddenly some homes are getting 10 Gig – well as the article points out that 400 times faster than 25 Mbps.

This discrepancy came up at a Minnesota Broadband Task Force meeting in June too when Travis Carter asked Task Force members what they meant by “broadband”…

It started when Travis Carter from US Internet asked “so broadband – are we talking Gig?” Everyone sort of hemmed and hawed and finally said – actually we’re talking 10-20 Mbps up and 5-10 Mbps down. Gulp!

At the same meeting another essential issue came up too – the difference between backhaul charges for Twin Cities versus rural providers…

Then providers got down to brass tacks and budgets. Access (Gig) to the backbone in Minneapolis costs a provider 50 cents a month. In Red Wing it’s more like a dollar. In Thief River Falls, it’s $10,000-$20,000 a month. Clearly when wholesale costs vary so much, retail is a different game in remote areas.

So while US Internet’s expansion to some part of Minneapolis isn’t going to matter to most of us – I think it’s good that it’s happening because it makes people ask why? And maybe it will help people figure out a way to fix the discrepancy.