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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another bust

The City of Portland didn't get picked by Google for ultra-high-speed internet service. But the minions at City Hall who burned gobs of time and money on this are no doubt hard at work figuring out some other way to get the city in the internet service business. We think they're still hoping to run a line to your house through the sewer system and charge the cost of laying it to your sewer bill.

Remember Opie Sten's free wi-fi fantasies? Get used to those potholes, folks. The cool kids can't be bothered with them.

Comments (18)

There you go, Jack. Worrying about paying bills and taking care of infrastructure is sooooooooo mundane. Can't you just chase after shiny objects the way the mayor and his hipster supporters do?

"The Internet is as important to Portlanders as water, power and paved streets."

Ummmmm..... NO. IT'S. NOT.

Thanks, Jack. I wasn't aware of that PR b/s. I wonder how much that cost us?

And just what do bicycles and beer have to do with high-speed internet? I wouldn't be surprised if it had an impact on Google's decision.

It must be true... kids run this city.

From Google press release:

In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations.

How the hell could Portland hope to compete with other cities under those criteria?

The only way for any large enterprise to "build efficiently" in Portland, is if the City is willing to design them their own urban renewal district, waive all fees and rubberstamp variances for all questioned construction regulations.

It wouldn't surprise me to find out that Sam offered Google as much and was still turned down.

Potholes are so 1947.

The new kids don't worry about potholes - they do EVERYTHING on the internet and only leave their homes to run, bike or walk.

To them, not having free wireless internet provided by the municipality is the biggest pothole they know of. Having to, egad, PAY for internet access...that is so totally not cool. After all they paid $2500 for an Apple laptop (when a $400 Windows based laptop would have done just fine) so they can't afford internet.

Just paint a couple of parallel white lines around all the potholes on your street, snap a few photos, then email them in to PBOT (with a cc to the Mayor's Office) claiming the bike lane on your street needs repairs. That should move your street to the top of the list.

Geez, Portland city hall is so accomplished at even running something basic like water service. Not. Since they've had numerous computer systems blow up on them; it only stands to reason one of their next ventures should be going into a business related to the computer industry. WHAT THE HEY, maybe they can make the state and federal government pay for yet another boondoggle. Nothin like liv'n off other people's money.

I'll bet the food carts in Kansas suck! More proof we have a superior quality of life here in P-town.

The free wi-fi fantasies where dreamed up by a corporation called MetroFi, not Sten. From what I could tell, the city actually did a good job of limiting their exposure to expenses related to cleanup of the abandoned equipment, and they get to keep the hardware. PortlandTelco is being given some of them to re-purpose as PTP nodes so Portland residents might even get some good out of it yet.

Many years ago there was actually talk of transmitting broadband internet via power lines. Haven't heard of the sewer line angle before though.

Thanks for that revisionist history, but it isn't going to fly. Sten pushed the wi-fi relentlessly, and the city had employee Logan Kleier working on it for a year or more.

Gene is from Personal Telco, and I'm glad that that organization got the leftovers of the wasteful dabbling in something City Hall knew nothing about and should have stayed away from.

There are two fiber optic lines on the poles in front of my house that were put there maybe 10 years ago, unlit AFAIK to this day.

And these are not in the tony neighborhoods. They are on the streets of SE Portland, well east of mall 205.

We could have some fun with this one.

First, what will the marketing folks call the service offering?
(1) Portland Broadband Sewer Service (too boring)
(2) Crapcast
(3) Comcrap (whoops, that one's already taken)
(4) (insert your own)

And here are some things you'll likely hear from their Bangalore-based contracted customer service when you call in:

"Your router is too close to your toilet; you'll have to move it farther away for the unit to function properly."

"You'll have to start flushing twice or the packets will get bogged down."

"We can't come out and install today, but if you pick up a spool of fiber at our retail center and flush the end down, we'll watch for it here and hook you up as soon as we can get to it."

"Could you stick your head in the toilet and tell us if you see any kinks or breaks in the fiber?"

We suggest you uninstall the sewer and reinstall.

The project failed with a capital F. Logan was then promoted to IT security director.

Google thought of it already. Its called TiSP

Gives "memory dump" a whole new meaning.

> Sten pushed the wi-fi relentlessly, and
> the city had employee Logan Kleier
> working on it for a year or more.

Assuming that was his only duty at the time that's $76K. Plus another $250K or so for removal costs, is that in the ballpark? Then you minus the value of the impounded hardware... even at wholesale has to be 100s of thousands. I'm not seeing the cost of this hit the average home price in Portland metro.

I suggest you look at what other cities have spent on this type of stuff before holding it up as a symbol of CoP mis-management.

Sten pushed the vision, but MetroFi were the engineers that should have known better. If the city looked at the upside (open broadband wi-fi city wide) vs the downside (left holding the bag on cleanup costs) I think one can argue the risk was worth the reward.

I'm not saying the city didn't screw up. At the least they ran a poor RFP process and they picked the wrong service provider. But they didn't spend a ton of money upfront in infrastructure and didn't allow themselves to get railroaded by MetroFi into dumping more money in at the end. Not bad. Considering what goes on in Water and Sewer on a regular basis I call that a push.

> Gene is from Personal Telco, and I'm
> glad that that organization got the
> leftovers of the wasteful dabbling in
> something City Hall knew nothing about
> and should have stayed away from

I'm not "from" PTP, I used to volunteer in the early days, haven't in years. I still have a PTP email alias, I'm guessing you saw that in my profile?

I'd love to see some info on the true costs of the UnwirePDX/MetroFi project but rather than assuming you know what went down why not call up Logan at BTS? Or file some information requests with the city? You've got to find some muck before you start raking it.

MetroFi was a bust, Gene. Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars were blown. If you want to defend it, fine -- we'll keep that in mind in judging the relevance and trustworthiness of your "Personal Telco."

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