MetroFi Vs Portland

Posted by Sam Churchill on

MetroFi, which has been building Portland’s free citywide wireless network has said it won’t finish unless the city hands over as much as $9 million, according to the Portland Business Journal.

I’m not sure that this is news.

UPDATE: Logan Kleier, director of Unwired Portland for the City of Portland, told DailyWireless Feb 4th:

There have been no significant developments with MetroFi in the last few months. MetroFi is currently maintaining their network in Portland and is operating this network through their contract with the City which provides the ability for them to leasing space in the right of way for their equipment.

The City has an open and ongoing dialogue with MetroFi to better understand how and when they will meet their contractual commitment to create a city wide network within the contractually prescribed timeline.

Last fall MetroFi told the city it would stop building the network unless the city bought “anchor tenant” services from them. The city’s contract with MetroFi never included a promise to buy services — and the city isn’t budging.

MetroFi stopped expanding its Portland footprint last October, although it continues filling in areas where it had been testing equipment. MetroFi now serves about 29 percent of Portland, according to CEO Chuck Haas, up from about 25 percent in October. MetroFi said more than 17,000 people signed on in November, the same tally it reported for October.

Microsoft’s Stefan Weitz, director of planning for MSN (above, left), spoke at a Muniwireless conference (pdf) on the viability of the ad-supported model (below).

MetroFi says the amount of time users spend online continues growing — 323,000 hours in aggregate in November, about 19 hours per user.

Yankee Group says cities with the population size and demographics of Minneapolis or Boston could realize as much as $7 million annually from advertising revenue once the network is fully built out.

Aurora, Illinois has the same problem with MetroFi.

More than a year and a half since the deal was first inked, Aurora officials announced Monday that the company installing city-wide Wi-Fi has abandoned its plan to connect Aurora for free.

California-based MetroFi has installed Wi-Fi poles over roughly 20 percent of Aurora, but officials said no significant work has been done on the network since June. At that time, 160 antennas had been deployed, mostly on the West Side — a fraction of the anticipated 600 to 900 antennas that would make up a completed network.

Clearwire’s CTO John Saw told RCR Wireless News that the company’s Oregon trial covers 145 square miles in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Tigard, all west of downtown Portland, Oregon. Clearwire uses 35 to 45 towers to cover the entire trial market, but Saw says different terrain and urban density would skew that number heavily depending on the market being covered.

MetroFi said they’d spend some $10 million on a 134 square mile WiFi network which was supposed to serve some 500,000 people. Do the math. Fifty towers at $100k each ($5M), beats a $10M Wi-Fi network. Plus you get voice, speed and mobility. Of course there’s one small catch — nobody has Mobile WiMAX cards (yet). ABI forecasts more than 95 million will use WiMAX premise gear and 200 million mobile devices by 2012.

Will Mobile WiMAX prove to be a more cost/effective infrastructure — even for “free” ad-sponsored virtual operators? At this point, nobody can say for sure. The market dynamics are certainly interesting — and that could open the door for some wholesale horse trading.

Related Municipal Wireless stories on DailyWireless include; MetroFi SideGuide: Always On Intrusion, Meraki Proposes Free SF Wi-Fi Network, Nortel + Clearwire = VoIP, MetroFi Quits Installing Portland Nodes, Portland MetroFi Gets Okay, Digital Divide Initiatives, Meraki Jacks Up the Price, Personal Telco Finds Portland WiFi Coverage Lacking, Earthlink Restructures, MuniFi Holds Breath, Personal Telco Finds Portland WiFi Coverage Lacking, Personal Telco’s Independent Report on MetroFi Coverage, Portland MetroFi Update, Portland’s MetroFi: So Near Yet So Far, Corpus Christi & Portland: Cutting The Cord, Portland MetroFi + Microsoft Ads, Portland Chooses MetroFi for 134 Mile Cloud, Meraki Rocks, Bridging the Digital Divide, Statewide/Nationwide Wireless Broadband, SF Officially Backs Out of MuniFi, SoCal Wireless: Toast?, Houston Gets it’s Money Back from Earthlink and MuniFi: What Now?.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008 at 3:10 pm .

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