Bumpy start for Portland's muni-WiFi

A few months ago the city of Portland, OR unveiled its plan for metro-WiFi with much fanfare. It has been a bumpy road, though, as several problems combined to make the launch of the ambitious project less than smooth (ambitious, because the city said the system would offer WiFi coverage for 95 percent of the city). First, negotiations between local utilities and MetroFi, the provider with which the city has signed the WiFi agreement, have stalled. At issue: How much should Portland General Electric charge MetroFi for the power the WiFi antennas consume. Second, the city hoped that the system would help it save manpower costs and generate additional revenue by collecting data from automated parking meters in the downtown area. It now appears that the system will not be able to do that.

MetroFi said it would invest about $10 million of its own money to set up this privately funded network, and that it will recoup its investment and make money by selling 1-inch banner ads which would scroll across the screen as a user logs on to the system. The antennas will be placed on top of utility poles and public buildings.

For more on Portland's WiFi:
- see this report

PLUS: Read this detailed and useful article by Barbara Grady on the state of muni-WiFi. Article

ALSO: Google is partnering with EarthLink to offer WiFi to San Francisco, so the BBC's Katie Fehrenbacher wanted see for herself how the company-supported WiFi system works in the company's own back yard. To find out, she drove to Mountain View, CA and filed this report.

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