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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 5, 2007 1:03 PM. The previous post in this blog was Coming soon: Son of 11?. The next post in this blog is Have a great weekend. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Friday, October 5, 2007

Portland's free wi-fi dream is over

Now can we lay off the city employee who's been working full-time on this ill-fated big idea? Maybe Richie Rich can give him a caretaker's job up at the mansion.

Comments (25)

The reason wi-fi was irresistible to the the city council is subtle. You have to remember that these aren't just civic leaders - they're our lifestyle coaches. They want to manage our every step and force us to choose what they want us to choose. That's what the new bridge is about. That's also why you can walk down a block in Portland and see 15 different parking signs telling you what you can and can't do. I believe wi-fi was subconsciously appealing to them because it was their chance to actually send a signal into all of our heads at once. They might not realize it, but I believe that's what they loved about the idea. It appealed to the great controllers that they want to be.

I believe wi-fi was subconsciously appealing to them because it was their chance to actually send a signal into all of our heads at once.

Not through my tinfoil hat!

Wifi was attractive to City leaders because Metro Wifi told them they could piggyback on an advertising run network and get both free internet for the public and cheap internet for City workers, especially mobile internet. (Thus sticking it to Qwest.)

Unfortunately it doesn't work but I don't see anything nefarious about the attempt. Given all the other things the City has wasted mucho bucks on this thing is a piker by comparison. IMHO.

Greg C

It ain't over until Sten says it's over. It seems as though MetroFi is just asking for the check I'm sure Sten and Adams promised them at the outset. The city was going to buy services from MetroFi, as I recall.

The problem now, of course, is the network doesn't work and the concept is failing nationally. Will Sten and Adams have the balls to cut the check despite reality? I'll put my chips on "yes". Somewhere right now there's a negotiation between MetroFi and CoP to come up with a number which fill *fix* the current network and provide the funds to *complete* it. All, of course, in exchange for the City's free use of the system until 2027. Or until MetroFi goes under. Whichever comes first.


The salary and benefits for one city employee for quite a while, I think.

Which employee? Someone's full time job at city-hall was managing the Metro-Fi contract?

Far as I understand the only thing the city gave them was their blessing to decorate street and traffic lights.

The city was going to buy services from MetroFi, as I recall.

The agreement said the city might. It never provided for a commitment or contractual obligation to do so.

******Which employee? Someone's full time job at city-hall was managing the Metro-Fi contract?******

His name is Logan Kleier and he is with the Bureau of Technology Services which means he is probably located in the Portland Building. In any event you can email him at either or also probably and ask him what else is on his plate.

Greg C

The agreement said the city might. It never provided for a commitment or contractual obligation to do so.

The initial pack of lies included the promise that the MetroFi system would work with the solar parking kiosks. Of course, it didn't. Just like the rest of the original "vision" -- pure bulls**t.

They'll be out of business soon. Let's hope it's before the city can throw more money at this stupidity.

Yeah, public internet is SO stupid. It's really just a fad, the whole web thing. No access disparity issues, either. Best just to huddle in a Luddite celebration and talk fondly about the days when phones had dials and actual bells that rang.

Torrid, go fight a fire somewhere.

It would have been a great idea if it had worked, and it won't be too long before real ubiquitous wifi will be considered a minimum urban requirement like running water, indoor plumbing, electric power. In the meantime, someone should be accountable for letting that bid spec get issued without a "must work" clause written by somebody with a clue. They claim there was one, and that the existing system meets it. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Thanks Torrid. You are right. New Yorkers only understand Portland about half the time.

Some day there will probably be free wi-fi that works, but you can be sure that it will not be brought to you by the Portland City Council.

Here are some interesting links

The first one has the bill to the COP if you scroll down.

Now maybe we can spend more money on silly monuments to zoobombers.

Some day there will probably be free wi-fi that works

I'm quite happy with the various Personal Telco nodes around town, and have been for years.

Frankly, I think the MetroFi thing was a worthwhile gamble. It cost the City almost nothing and it does provide some benefit. Just not the ubiquitous benefit that was claimed by MetroFi. I say that as someone who has been labelled a critic and a skeptic of MetroFi, even accused of being biased against them.

As someone who works with wifi a lot, helping to deploy, troubleshoot and maintain Personal Telco nodes around the city, I can tell you that wifi teaches you a new appreciation of wires. Or fiber. Wifi uses public airwaves that are busy doing other things like jiggling to other peoples' wifi, microwave ovens, cordless phones, etc. Coverage of large areas can be built better than MetroFi has done, but it is dodgy prospect at best.

What I am *excited* about is the prospect of a very fast municipal fiber network, like the FIOS system that Verizon is deploying in the suburbs, but without the monopoly (and that last part is crucial). Personally, I would like to see a quasi-governmental agency (say, something similar to the Port of Portland) build and operate such a network on a cost-recovery basis and allow all comers to sell services over it. Such a network could be built and paid for with as little as $10/month over 10 years. That could be an extremely good thing for Portland. I only hope you fuzzy-headed critics will be able to see past your loathing of City Hall to grasp a good thing when you find it. Incumbent carriers are likely to pitch a fit and/or crap in their pants to try to stop it. Please don't unthinkingly do their work for them.

The Personal Telco Project was started back in November 2000 because incumbent carriers were getting in the way of the network we wanted. The plan was to just go around them and build our own network using wifi. But a publicly-owned, inexpensive, open-access, very fast fiber network could provide what we were really looking for without relying completely on the tempermental and interferable radio wave.

I would be happy to see the City of Portland undertake a municipal fiber optic network across the city.

But first, they should pave all the sand and gravel streets that blanket our neighborhoods.

Those streets can be paved at any time, and paid for in the same way the municipal fiber network would be paid for. By the end users. It is hard to see what isn't fair about that. Now, whether compassion should trump fairness, that is an interesting question. Be sure to let folks know you've got the money to help out.

Here's the information on how substandard street paving works in Portland:


The City of Portland doesn't have any money of it's own (except what it borrows based on their ability to tax/charge citizens).

The only money the City has are the taxes levied on citizens and businesses (which are also paid, eventually, by citizens, consumers, and tourists).

When the City builds roads with tax dollars, they are (by definition) charging the people who use the roads.

We don't need knew taxes to build/improve roads: we need new politicians.

I love it when I can say I told you so.

But a publicly-owned, inexpensive, open-access, very fast fiber network could provide what we were really looking for without relying completely on the tempermental and interferable radio wave.

So, your answer is to have the taxpayers pay for the city to dig up all the streets in Portland, and run fiber optic cable to every neighborhood and every home? And to directly compete with for-profit businesses that employ hundreds (if not thousands) of people here?

No, my answer is for users to pay for it, just like they pay for water service. Except on a per connection basis and not on a per cubic foot basis. Taxes do not pay for water service *at all*, rate payers pay for water service. And it *would* compete or replace private last-mile service. Any private content provider could hook up and sell services over the network.

If private enterprise is so great, why don't they own all the streets? Same thing goes for data pipes. You drive over public streets to get to private stores. It solves all sorts of problems that private enterprise monopolies have imposed on us.

I very much think this is a massively good idea.


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