This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 14, 2006 9:44 PM. The previous post in this blog was Skunks, blinded by light, return to their holes. The next post in this blog is Cautionary tale. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Guess who's coming to dinner

This just gets funnier and funnier. Now Portland's sexy new "free" citywide wi-fi system is apparently going to be built, at least in part, with money from Microsoft. For now, they' re "partnering" with MetroFi, who was supposed to build it, but when those guys fade out for lack of money I'm sure old Bill Gates will have the system by the gonads. Now there's your power to the people, kids. Way to go, Opie. Tireless champion of the consumer.

UPDATE, 11/15, 12:50 a.m.: The O's Mike Rogoway reports that "[t]he Microsoft deal doesn't change terms of MetroFi's contract with Portland, and MetroFi will continue to build and operate the network itself," but he also quotes a city official as saying that "he's been assured there is a financial component," and "There is money flowing from MSN to MetroFi."

Comments (20)

Just saying ...

Wayne Madsen Report(dot)COM -- Nov. 13

November 13, 2006 -- Anonymous guest column from a long time player in the computer programming business:


Chairman Bill Gates testified before the U.S. Congress that Microsoft will need to expand H1b visas to meet demand for it's software. Unemployed U.S. workers did not receive an invitation to Congress.

The Cornyn-Shadegg "SKIL Bill" is being attached to an Omnibus Appropriations bill in this lame-duck session of Congress. If the SKIL Bill passes Congress, U.S. high tech workers will be flooded with foreign competitors undercutting their wages and professional development. No other profession has been so unfairly treated by the U.S. government and it's corporate masters.

MICROSOFT claims that these jobs pay 100K annually and that the workers they need are not here in the U.S. It's a lie! There are very few (virtually no) engineers getting paid 100K per year and the U.S. educates numerous engineers annually who have to compete with the absolute lowest paid tech workers on Earth for their jobs.

If we allow MICROSOFT and other corporate powers to dictate our future we will not be capable of having engineers in the U.S. who are not imported under H1b visas. The price of the software will be as high as now or higher even though they will be exploiting foreign labor against the interest of the U.S. citizen. Wages of U.S. software engineers have actually dropped by 12% over the last 5 years due to outsourcing.

If this bill passes during the lame-duck session then consumers will have the privilege of ...
Computer programming is a profession? Maybe craft, or art, or occupation. But profession? While there's no required degree or exams, no licensing, no shingle, no accreditation -- anyone who can cut it stays hired, same as it oughta be.

Same as it ever was.

Go away bog. Do you realize how much negativity is spewing from you? Your old and a city is out growing you, move to boise and stagnate, but please stop trying to bring down our city. The majority of people living here love it and are tired of people like you who lash out at the city rather then deal with their own midlife crises problems. Every single topic you turn into a negative. Is it a NJ thing? Please move back east or try some prozac. Something IS wrong with you.

Boise is stagnant? Have you BEEN there in the last five years? Stagnant is one of the last words I'd use.

No disrespect to boise, it was more a size issue. Boise is like Portland when Jack Bog liked Portland.

Someone please take "thedude" bowling, or pee on his carpet, or anything, just make him leave.

Microsoft will provide advertising and revenue to the wi-fi network which virtually insures that the enterprise will be financially viable. I fail to see why that is bad news or why there is anything funny about it. Jack, you should just admit graciously that you were wrong on this one.

Go away bog

Um, here's how it works, dude. If you don't want to read Jack's comments and find them negative and depressing, don't copy and paste the address into that rectangle thingy at the top of your screen, or click on some link that says, "Jack Bog's blog". Works every time.

I feel sorry for the dude. That rug really tied the room together.

Arne's got it. This isn't anything more than a content/advertising deal for Microsoft - a 'pay for play' deal.

They've tried (and failed) before to get into local markets with a portal/content play of their own (anyone remember Sidewalk, which lasted mere months before it got rolled up and thrown in the garage?) Now, they're paying someone else to help deliver local eyeballs for their advertising network/content.

I'm not averse to taking MS's money if it helps defray the costs of a local wi-fi rollout. Better Bill's money than mine, I figure...

The problem is that when MetroFi runs out of money, Microsoft owns the system. Then they start playing the monopolist's role that they know so well. They'll do whatever they want to the consumers, and the city will have as much chance of stopping them as they had buying PGE.

The problem is that when MetroFi runs out of money, Microsoft owns the system.

Or, given Microsoft's history, when Microsoft just decides it's far easier for them to BUY MetroFi.

Actually, a wireless network run by MS might not be such a bad thing. But it's pretty amusing that Opie's little anti-Comcast crusade (which is what this is all about -- taking customers away from Comcast) could very well wind up bringing MS control into every square inch of the city.

Metrofi is just being one of those "go-between" entities that gets to skim 10% of the endeavor. But it makes Sten look like he's looking out for the "small guys". Microsoft or what ever large corporation Metrofi has backing/services from is really the corporation that benefits and runs the show. The "arrangement" just adds cost to the taxpayers.

This is being done in other sectors of Portland's government/private "partnerships"-like in SoWhat and Homers "arrangements" on Block 49 and 33. Homer can elect to not personally build the affordable housing, but have another developer do the job; but he can skim off whatever percentage he can get away with. A major factor why there are so many cost overruns in this city.

So M$ is partnering up with MetroFi to serve up free wifi in exchange for controlling the ads on the service and rolling out testbed services like geotargeting ads.

This seems dramatically different than the $55.95 a month I pay for Comcrap as an ISP.

If I couldn't afford Comcast as an ISP, I'd happily accept free wifi, and wouldn't give a second thought about who was in charge of the ads.

The problem is that when MetroFi runs out of money, Microsoft owns the system.

No more so than they would as an advertiser on a cable network or print newspaper that goes belly-up.

When (if?) MetroFi runs out of money, MS just skips over to the next advertising vehicle, is all.

Granted, I haven't seen the contract. But I've been part of other content licensing deals before; I've never seen one structured in a way that handed control of the delivery vehicle back over to the content provider.

Even from MS.

And I should add (as I type this on my Macintosh powerbook using Firefox as my browser) that I'm hardly a shill for/backer of Bill & Co...!

I've never seen one structured in a way that handed control of the delivery vehicle back over to the content provider.

Did you ever see one where the content provider financed the initial assembly of the delivery vehicle hardware? Me neither, but that's what I'll bet is going on on this one. MS may very well be either buying a powerful equity stake in MF or lending it money with a mortgage on the hardware. If MF goes down, MS will be left holding Opie's walkie talkies.

I keep telling you folks - what will happen is the system will get built, regardless of who's money is used (in this case it looks like it will be MS money). When the contract is up (because this contract doesn't really have THAT much city money involved) MS (or whoever) will claim that to keep the system alive they need more city money. The city will claim the system "vital" and will be the "victim" (or hostage if you prefer) to however much money MS demands. Mark my words, when the contract is up (I think it was a 3 year deal), Portland is held up for a hefty chunk of change - which they won't even bat an eye about paying. Time to raise the taxes again.

Exactly. I can see the press conference now -- somebody from Microsoft saying, "The economic model is broken."

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