Faster broadband now available in rural northern Minnesota
Verizon Wireless launched its high-speed wireless broadband Internet service throughout northern Minnesota today. "It's 10 to 15 times faster," said Karen Smith, spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless. In addition to Hibbing, Grand Rapids, Internationa...
Verizon Wireless launched its high-speed wireless broadband Internet service throughout northern Minnesota today.
"It's 10 to 15 times faster," said Karen Smith, spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless.
In addition to Hibbing, Grand Rapids, International Falls, Cloquet and Bemidji, towns throughout Minnesota and northeastern South Dakota are being added to Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Wireless purchased Unicel last summer, and has been upgrading equipment ever since.
The old system -- which wasn't available in every community -- was faster than dialup service but not nearly as speedy as broadband, Smith said.
The old data network operated at roughly 60 to 80 kilobits per second, Smith said.
The new wireless system boasts downloads between 600 kilobits and 1.4 megabits per second. That means a one-megabyte e-mail attachment -- the equivalent of a large PDF file or typical picture size -- will download in about eight seconds.
But speeds fluctuate depending on where the user is and how many people are on the network at the same time, Smith said.
The price for using the service with your computer ranges from $40 to $60 per month.
To use the new service on Blackberries, smart phones and PDAs, the data and voice plans go from $80 a month to $100.
"It's really bringing wireless broadband to an area a lot of people live and a lot of people vacation," Smith pointed out.
John Barrieau, northern Minnesota district manager for Verizon Wireless, said the launch so far has attracted mainly Unicel customers switching over, but there is some interest especially from those living in areas where no cable or DSL is available.
"We've definitely have seen a few customers that were very interested," Barrieau said.
Beginning March 22 current Unicel customers will start receiving Verizon Wireless bills, but Unicel contracts are being honored until they expire.