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Minneapolis Selects US Internet for Citywide Wireless

Multi-Service, Multi-Platform Municipal Wi-Fi Network to Deliver Affordable and Mobile Broadband Offerings for City Residents, Visitors, Business, and Government

Consumers to Receive Broadband Access at Dial-Up Prices for a Decade

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Minneapolis, MinnesotaSeptember 5, 2006 — US Internet, a global Internet, hosting, and ASP provider, today announced that the City of Minneapolis selected the Minnetonka-based ISP to build and operate a 60-square-mile broadband wireless network to cover the entire city with BelAir Networks industry-leading mobile broadband mesh networking solution, a rollout bolstered by strategic relationships with Siemens, Ecutel, and Aptilo Networks. A contract negotiations team made up of City staff, elected officials, and community and tech experts recommended the City choose US Internet as the wireless vendor after a selection process that began with more than 80 companies who expressed interest in working with the City.

The citywide wireless initiative, known as "Wireless Minneapolis," will result in one of the largest municipal Wi-Fi rollouts in the United States. Residents and businesses will have the opportunity to sign up for wireless accounts that will allow them to use their wireless-ready computers anywhere in the city with consumers receiving inexpensive high-speed Internet access from 1 to 3 million-bits-per-second (Mbps) download and upload speeds for $19.99 a month, guaranteed for 10 years.

Construction of the network, which will cover all 60 square miles of the city, will begin this fall and is expected to take roughly a year.

"Learning from the experiences and challenges faced by other cities, Minneapolis has chosen both a business model and a technology solution that ensures immediate, on-going, and sustainable benefits to our citizens, visitors, municipal workers, and public safety personnel," stated R.T. Rybak, Mayor of Minneapolis. "We managed to work out a deal that will truly allow us to revolutionize the way we do business. A citywide wireless network will be an invaluable public safety tool, and it will allow us to provide many other services more efficiently than ever, stretching the taxpayers' dollars."

Minneapolis CIO, Karl Kaiser explained: "US Internet offered the best proposal, and we were very pleased with the performance of their pilot network and the BelAir Networks technology."

"We are thrilled to be selected by the City of Minneapolis, its esteemed City Council, and the honorable Mayor to change the landscape of our beloved metropolis by bringing affordable and mobile broadband access to all," said Joe Caldwell, US Internet co-founder and CEO of USI Wireless, which already provides services to Twin Cities corporations. "I'm confident that Wireless Minneapolis will be hailed as the finest business model of public and private organizations coming together and the best example of deploying wireless broadband in the United States."

Added Kurt Lange, US Internet co-founder and COO of USI Wireless, "Taking a true partnership approach, this initiative will provide a truly unique and competitive alternative to high-speed Internet offerings to those who live, work, and visit the city. In addition, Wireless Minneapolis will deliver other valuable broadband services to both the public and private sector, such as Internet phone, wireless video for download movies, and home security monitoring. Going forward, we are eager to execute our plans here in Minneapolis with the help of BelAir and are extremely excited about the possibility of bringing our Wi-Fi success to other cities surrounding Minneapolis proper as well as other cities nationwide."

US Internet Wi-Fi Network

US Internet will provide the City with a turnkey wireless broadband IP data access network, which will include backhaul, tower, and access point technologies as well as all design, hardware, software, installation, content development, testing, maintenance, and support services necessary to provide a fully functioning Wi-Fi network.

The Wi-Fi mesh network will provide affordable, high-speed Internet access for residents, businesses, municipal workers, and visitors of Minneapolis. US Internet will deploy BelAir Networks equipment throughout the 60 square mile city, creating a broadband wireless mesh network that delivers industry-leading broadband performance and scalability, and carrier-class capacity and reliability. US Internet will also work with the City to develop a digital inclusion program to offer certain qualifying residents discounted Internet access.

"After extensive research into competing solutions and deployment of the live pilot network, it was clear that BelAir Networks delivered proven technology that can concurrently handle the many applications and services we need to deliver — at true broadband speeds," said Caldwell. "World-class cities like Minneapolis need networks that will deliver broadband performance, scale with increasing subscriber and services growth, and support new technologies like WiMAX. BelAir delivers these wireless broadband mesh networks today."

The network would cover Minneapolis with signals that could be received in 95 percent of the outdoor and 90 percent of the indoor coverage area. The mobile wireless service, a true challenge to local competitors, is intended to provide entry-level broadband service at dial-up prices:

  • Inexpensive, high-speed Internet access with prices capped for 10 years
  • Consumers to get broadband services at 1-3 Mbps speeds for $19.99/mo.
  • Business customers to get the same for $29.99/mo.
  • City government workers would pay $11.99/mo.

As part of the agreement, the City has agreed to pay US Internet $2.2 million up front and $1.25 million a year so that City facilities and police and fire emergency services can become anchor tenants on the Wi-Fi network. The City would recoup the cash advance later in the 10-year contract.

Network Technology

US Internet's one-of-a-kind broadband wireless solution utilizes cutting-edge mesh technology on distinct, separate radio frequencies that provides multiple individual segmented networks— all contained within a single mesh radio unit. Mesh technology was originally created for the U.S. military. It was developed to deploy quickly and to automatically expand the coverage area of communications as more devices are added to the network. The technology is an ideal solution for establishing a fast, reliable communications network anywhere, anytime.

Citywide wireless access could allow building inspectors to file reports from the field and firefighters to view floor plans on the way to a fire. Wireless Minneapolis will expand programs like the Minneapolis Safe City Initiative, using wireless video cameras to provide real-time visual information to police in squad cars and at police precincts. The technology may even someday help Animal Control find lost dogs.

"Our solution was purposefully designed to provide secure broadband wireless mobile services to the Public Safety sector of the government while being able to accommodate the growing number of individuals and organizations desiring inexpensive broadband capabilities," said Lange.

US Internet proposes a combination of systems: Wi-Fi for private use including most city users, a separate network for public safety, and WiMax for businesses and residences wanting speeds up to 60 megabits. WiMax, not yet standardized, has a longer reach than Wi-Fi, requiring fewer antennas. City coverage would require more than 1,000 radio transmitters; signals may even reach some inner-ring suburban locations.

With thousands of wireless mesh nodes operating in more than 150 deployments worldwide — including the City of London and Toronto — BelAir Networks mobile wireless mesh networking products are field-proven, delivering high-performance broadband Quad-play services (voice, video, data and mobility) for municipal, residential, and business applications.

"BelAir Networks is pleased that our comprehensive portfolio of mobile broadband mesh products has been chosen by US Internet to serve the needs of workers, visitors and residents throughout Minneapolis," said Jim Freeze, senior vice president, marketing and alliances, BelAir Networks. "Increasingly, we're finding that cities and service providers who want to deliver true broadband performance on a future-proof mobile network are turning to BelAir for our proven cost-effective mobile broadband mesh solutions."

Closing the Digital Divide

Through the deployment of USIW's broadband network, there is a great need to help bridge the digital divide. Low-cost access to the Internet and Web-enabled applications can provide greater educational, communication, and employment opportunities than are currently available for those of lesser means. In addition, the lower cost leverages the City's and charitable foundation resources to help more people help themselves.

As part of the agreement, two percent of US Internet's profit from Wi-Fi deals with other metro cities will be earmarked for closing the gap between those in Minneapolis who can and can't afford high-speed Internet service. This is in addition to a requirement that US Internet contribute $500,000 to a Minneapolis "Digital Inclusion Fund."

"Being a good corporate citizen is important to US Internet," said Caldwell. "Currently, we support a number of charities, including The Ronald McDonald House, Children's Cancer Research Fund and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities. We also offer a nationwide web hosting charity program that includes free web hosting for all non-profit organizations whose primary beneficiaries are children. We hope to continue making a difference through Wireless Minneapolis."

About US Internet

Founded in 1995, US Internet is an international provider of Internet and hosting services. In the contiguous U.S., the company has points of presence in over 2,000 cities, enabling those with a mobile lifestyle to connect to the Internet from almost any location. They also have a collocation presence in Minneapolis, MN, Milwaukee, WI, London, UK, and Sydney, AU. The company's suite of Internet and hosting services are not only comprehensive but can also be custom fit for any enterprise-level need. Services include, but are not limited to, Internet voice and data, web hosting, anti-spam and anti-virus, remote system backup, collocation services, disaster recovery, ecommerce services, web site statistics, network monitoring, and much more. In addition, US Internet is focused on providing its customers with superior support service, which is backed by a seasoned technology group who understands the needs and issues of today's businesses and employees. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year via online, email and telephone. At US Internet, you to get your net's worth. For more information, please visit www.usinternet.com.

About BelAir Networks

BelAir Networks is the first company to offer scalable, mobile wireless broadband mesh networking solutions with the highest quality for data, voice and video. The company teams with world-class global partners, including Siemens, to deploy proven, cost-effective wireless broadband mesh networks. BelAir's wireless networking solutions are built on the only multi-service architecture for municipal wireless broadband deployments of Wi-Fi, WiMAX and 3G Cellular networks. Built specifically for outdoor-in deployments, BelAir Networks' patented solution delivers the lowest cost per user and deploys in days, blending into the physical infrastructure of downtown business districts, hotels and resorts, and campuses. Founded in 2001, BelAir Networks is a privately held company. For more info, visit www.belairnetworks.com.

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