USI Wireless: What’s Your Experience?

So tell me about your experiences with USI Wireless.

I don’t like getting stuck with Comcast’s $42/month cable internet fee, so I’m once again considering USI Wireless, the Minneapolis-wide Wi-Fi service. With the lowest speeds coming in at around $18/month, it’s a lot cheaper. My internet needs are simple – just general web browsing – no gaming or anything, but I am easily frustrated when the internet doesn’t work correctly. Alert readers will recall that I used to be a USI Wireless customer for several months in early 2008, but I found that it did not meet my needs, so I switched to Comcast¬†about one year ago.

I have heard reports, though, that USI Wireless has made modifications to their network that eliminated the need to constantly log onto the network each time you open a browser window and that also eliminated the highly annoying forced logouts (timeouts) every 2 or 3 hours or so. It was my previous experience that USI Wireless made programs that require a continuous internet connection (like weatherbug, email notifications, or instant messaging) completely useless.

I sent an email to USI Wireless asking them to confirm whether this was the case. The reply email I received included only a brief & cryptic response “Indeed things have changed,” followed by a canned message about their pricing information. On a side note, the canned response also indicated that professional intallation was required, as is the use of their preferred modem, neither of which was the case when I was a customer one year ago.

So an open question to all USI Wireless customers: are you still required to log into the USI Wireless network at the beginning of each browsing session or is the service more like a cable internet service where you’re just always connected? Also, how about forced timeouts?

12 comments to USI Wireless: What’s Your Experience?

  • Moe

    Doesn't Comcast have a cheaper option now? Something like $25/mo for economy internet service?

    My brother has USI and he has issues getting online all the time. Do you have a stucco house? That causes a lot of issues.

  • They don't have forced timeouts anymore. I can stay connected all day.

    At the beginning of each session, sometimes you have to log in and sometimes you don't. I haven't figured out why I occasionally have to log in other then they make me check that I read the user agreement statement. It isn't too bad.

    The one thing I was recently having problems with was getting connected and that could have been my computer because sometime I can't connect to other network…stupid Windows Vista.

    Overall, my experience with them was better this past year than the year before. I am thinking about purchasing the home modem to see if that will help with my ability to get connected.

  • Anonymous

    Usi wireless be carefull couple of things. You have to a modem and a router you can rent but you are better off owning. To easy to hack into wirelees network secured or none. A program called pass crack 3.0. Put it this way so easy a caveman can do it "HA HA" I would check out qwest I have a harder time hacking into qwest for some reason. There is a reason why they are so cheap. And windows vista has nothing to with it Jules renew your IP or network wizard for next time.

  • Moe, you're right, the website does list a cheaper option. I wonder if it's a reaction to competition from USI?

    Jules, good to hear about the forced timeouts.

    Anonymous, that's the best comment I've ever gotten on this blog. Thanks. "HA HA"

  • Anonymous

    Comcast is no good it has whats called a token ring network-meaning shared broadban. If you notice comcast is around the time people get home from work. Qwest has dirct dsl broadban-meaning you get the broadban all the time. Usi wire less their broad does not stay the same. Moe is 100% right stucco does matter basement and get this even screened windows. Good thing is Usi wireless techs come out with a single reader and they will tell you if you are good or not. If you are not they refund 100% of your money, but it thanks about a month to get back. On a scale Of five stars it gets about a 2. Qwest 4 and comcast about three.

  • Anonymous

    typo forgot comcast is SLOW when people get home from work. Sorry about the typo.

  • Anonymous

    I can't make out whatever the previous "Anonymous" was attempting to say – Way to go, tweet-generation! You've managed to completely butcher the English language.

    I've been a USI Wireless customer for about two years and the service is fairly reliable, especially for the money. The basic (1MB) tier of service requires the "walled garden" approach, where you'll need to sign in before getting out to the Intertubes. I'm not sure what the idle timeout is, but it hasn't been too much an issue for browsing away from home.

    The other tiers of service require you use their CPE wireless router. These remain connected all the time and work pretty well. If you want to roll-your-own, you can do that as well (look for their hidden SSID and use EAP-TTLS with your USIW username and password). This will give you a native IP on the Internets, more like comcast/qwest's service.

    I have a stucco house and am not very far from the light pole where the nearest AP lives. I've got a great signal and pretty low-latency (40-80ms), which is adequate for light gaming and VOIP services, although that can also vary. I have the 6MB service and it works well for Netflix and other light internet use.

    I've also noticed that their service starts to lag in the evening hours (5-10 PM), but is still pretty usable.

    They're a net-neutral provider, if that's important to you.

  • Anonymous, thanks for the info. Most of it was way over my head.

  • Anonymous

    Comcast just jacked my rate up to $50/month… so I'm giving USI another try. 2 month free trial for previous subscribers.

    So far the service is much better. I recommend the professional installation – its free – and they come out and make sure you put the router in the spot that gets a good strong signal.

    I'm only a few days in – but so far no problems

  • Steven

    Comcast just switched me off the "promotional" offer of $36 and now I'm getting charged $73! I'm seriously considering USI wireless, but what's a good way to protect the data? Does USI provide a map so I can see where the closest light pole is to my apt?

  • Steven, I don't know if there's a map, but the the wireless things are pretty easy to spot around town. I'll bet you can find it by driving around.

    Also, Moe is right that they're advertising a $25 rate for a slower speed. I'm probably gonna switch. You might look into it.

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