The future of the Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Fund
In 2006, Minneapolis was one of the first major cities to enter into a public-private business partnership to provide wireless broadband access for the city and its businesses, visitors, and residents. As part of the contract, USI Wireless, the company that owns and operates the network, established the Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Fund with an initial amount of $500,000 and would continue to contribute 5% of their profits to the Fund annually.
In 2007, Apple released the iPhone. Google released Android.
In 2012, USI is expected to contribute $25,000 to the Fund, as opposed to the projected $500,000. As two recent reports from the StarTribune and MPRnews have indicated, there are at least three reasons why USI has not reached the projected profits (and thus has not contributed the projected contributions to the Fund) - competitively priced bundles from other Internet service providers, the evolution of streaming video and the need for faster connections, and changes in how smartphones have affected how people go online.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Digital Inclusion Fund has made grants of $400,000 to community organizations working to bridge the digital divide. For more information, see Wireless Minneapolis.
June 6, 2012
Posted by Katherine D