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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How does Portland's "free" wi-fi stink?

Let Steve count the ways for you.

Comments (9)

Once again, highly intelligent CoP talent negotiates a cutting edge contract which is billed as a "Win-Win." They were right, Microsoft Corp. and MetroFi Inc both won. But who's holding the bag: Portland. Don't try to tell me this venture doesn't cost the city, it did and it will.

Tom Potter, Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, Dan Saltzman, Erik Sten continue to dig a hole for the citizens of Portland, providing us with services that don't work, while giving away the potential that may be lost (see Personal Telco Project).

Wake up Portland, we need new leadership, and it should come quickly.

The "new leadership" is going to be either Sten or Adams. Or Charlie Hales, even worse.

The wi-fi deal, like "voter-owed elections," is all Sten. But they're all Teflon.

governance by shopping channel. "Ohhh, that's looks good and cheap too! gotta buy it!"

Jeff Smith told me that business leaders had agreed to a new "air tax" that will raise money to pay the operating costs of the "free" Wi-Fi system, so it's all good.

Ah yes, our saviors with the Personal Telco Project!

Didn't PTP bid on the wi-fi network and ask for millions of dollars to build it? I can just imagine the blogs now if the City had chosen them: "Once again, StenAdamsSaltzmanLeonardPotter have screwed us by stupidly spending millions to build a Wi-Fi network when other companies will do it for free -- followed by links to MetroFi's website.

Look, it's legit to complain about the quality of the network or the need for a booster, but complaining because the COP is somehow in the pocket of big corporate interests? That's rich.

And no, Carol, this isn't costing the City anything more than staff time to manage it -- the same staff time that would have been spent on PTP, or some other project if the City wasn't doing Wi-Fi. Just because everyone assumes it must be costing the City money doesn't make it so.

what's falling through the cracks is the story of how local businesses for years have simply and cheaply shared their Internet connection with customers (and nearby residents) for free.

it doesn't provide wide coverage, but it does bring customers to small, local businesses.

of course, a low-tech, local, community-oriented project is boring, and can't be controlled by large corporations or government.

must local government give over control of every aspect of community life to corporate control?

i'm tired of large corporations sweeping into town and promising to "create community".

worse, local government eats it up and buys into it, feigning diligence and pushing some sort of lightweight agenda of techno-bliss.

I'd like to know why Portland "deserves free WiFi..."

Why not free cell phone service and satellite TV?

Lets just have free everything for everyone and call it good.

What I don't understand is why I can sit in my house and pick up the signals of several other wireless networks--almost all basic off-the-shelf routers that serve more than one computer in a home--and yet never connect to MetroFi. Heck, for a few months, I was piggybacking on these networks for free. They were slow, but pretty reliable. Now I've bitten the bullet and have my own Comcast account.

So if some little Linksys router can be accessed half a block away by my laptop. why can't I get MetroFi when I'm directly under one of its barrels?

I think the idea of a wireless cloud over Portland is great, especially if I never ever had to deal with Comcast or Qwest again, but maybe we should have negotiated with Personal Telco. They may have wanted millions, but we never found out what they would accept.


Point of fact. The Personal Telco Project did not bid on the Unwire Portland project.

You might be confusing the Unwire Portland project with the Unwire Portland Testing project, but you'd still be technically wrong. Two PTP volunteers, myself and Caleb Phillips, were part of a Portland State University bid to independently evaluate the MetroFi proof-of-concept network. That bid was not accepted, but Caleb Phillips and I did a subset of the evaluation anyway on our own time and with our own resources. You can find the report we wrote at http://unwirepdx-watch.org/files/report.pdf.

The City spent approximately $20k on the independent evaluation, paid to a company called Uptown Services.

The City is not required by the contract with MetroFi to purchase services, but it may, of course, do so as it sees fit.

None of the City's money was ever going to go to the Personal Telco Project, because the PTP was not a bidder on either RFP.

The Personal Telco Project wants to help people share their internet connections, and to build their own interconnected networks. We can do that now, we are doing that now, and you (all of you) can participate. Please do.


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