Town's wireless deemed utility

Michigan State Roundup

Published January 1, 2004  | January 2004 issue

The city of Gladstone, near Escanaba, has set up a municipally owned wireless broadband Internet service. Run as a utility, the system is the first of its kind in the Upper Peninsula, and one of only a few nationally. After five weeks of operation, the city has 77 subscribers who pay $39.95 monthly for 515 Kbps. A competing private provider charges the same price for 275 Kbps.

The signal reaches a 10-mile radius, which includes the entire city, most of Escanaba and outlying areas. It broadcasts on top of a 100-foot bluff from a 200-foot tower, which was free thanks to a deal with a cellular service provider that wanted to use the bluff.

The project cost Gladstone around $72,500, paid from an economic development fund. FixedWirelessONE, of Minneapolis, sold the equipment and provides maintenance on the system.

Joe Mahon