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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Earthlink is bailing on municipal wi-fi

And if they can't make it work, MetroFi won't be able to, either. Does anybody know what will happen to the Portland system if MetroFi abandons it and/or goes under?

Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, CBS says it's going to try providing "free" wi-fi off its billboards. Good luck, boys and girls.

Comments (7)

You get what you pay for except in this case all the tax dollars that were expended

So far, Portland says its only expense has been the salary and benefits for one bureaucrat over several years.

Not that that's negligible, but the bigger problem comes if and when MetroFi bails and the city now becomes the proud owner and operator of the dumb thing. At that point, I can't imagine it will be anything but an expensive mess to maintain -- and even spendy to dismantle. Maybe Opie can get a deal on some of the work from the caretaker at his new mansion.

Your assumption that 'if Earthlink can't make it, then MetroFi won't' is flawed. Different business models/approaches to consumer Internet (theirs: subscription or fee-based access, with high costs for customer acquisition; MetroFi's: ad-supported free access, w/ free or low cost customer acquisition). Also, MetroFi's CEO Chuck Haas made it very clear in the article you reference: "The industry was bigger than EarthLink while they were deploying Wi-Fi, and it's bigger than them now." Hundreds of U.S. cities are planning and/or currently utilizing public safety networks and municipal applications -- consumer Internet is only one aspect of municipal wireless broadband, and it isn't the main driver of the industry anymore. MetroFi remains the leading service provider, and the Portland Wi-Fi network remains a success -- rapidly approaching nearly 20K monthly users.

the Portland Wi-Fi network remains a success

That is really funny.

If you work for MetroFi, better keep your resume warm.

the Portland Wi-Fi network remains a success -- rapidly approaching nearly 20K monthly users

Denise is Director of PR & Marcom at MetroFi and based in the Bay Area, i believe.

oh, and...20,000 "users"? really?

Is that 20,000 monthly users, or the same 2,000 people trying 10 different times (at different locations) without success?

My understanding is that MetroFi was required to post a bond to cover removal of the equipment in the event they go out of business or abandon it, so there should not be a problem with disused, inoperable pile of gear hanging around town.

My impression from the conversations I've had with City folks is that they have no interest in taking over if MetroFi can't make it work.

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