Bring Free WiFi to NE Portland!

I’m upset that the designers of the Portland Free WiFi have chosen to start providing the coverage in the richest parts of town – SW and SE Portland.  I see a budding effort in St Johns/far North, but NOTHING in the inner N/NE Portland.

Check out the coverage map – it is like internet red-lining.  Made more frustrating by the fact that the tax-payer program may be disconnected.

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3 responses to “Bring Free WiFi to NE Portland!

  1. I sent a letter to customer service asking why there was no service in NE Portland. I’ll let you know when I get a response.

  2. The MetroFi project is not a “taxpayer program”, it is a private company that thought it could build a wifi network over the whole city. Turns out, they couldn’t. What’s more, where they did manage to build, it doesn’t work very well. There have been some public funds spent overseeing the project, but the network belongs entirely to MetroFi, not at all to the City. The City has almost exactly zero leverage over MetroFi. MetroFi is effectively in default in its contract with the City, and MetroFi has almost exactly nothing to lose in further defying any request the City might make of them. So, let’s not have any more confusion over that.

    Also, having driven to every one of the SkyPilots (the outdoor mounted access points MetroFi uses) I can say that it was my impression that the demographics surrounding the access points vary widely, including less affluent areas. In some instances, they did an admirable job of siting SkyPilots near large lower-income apartment buildings. There are also deployments in swankier neighborhoods of the West Hills and Hillsdale.

    So, to the extent the network might get disconnected, that is entirely the responsibility of the winning bidder and contract signer that made certain promises of performance, MetroFi, Inc. You can legitimatly gripe about how the City let itself get into the position it did, but realize that it got into that position partly by refusing to commit substantial funds to build the network. As a taxpayer, you should be glad the risk of the venture was taken on by someone else, particularly when you see how it has turned out.

  3. Russell’s comment is great. It should also be noted that the reason MetroFi is not in much of N/NE (other than their business model falling apart) is that they were unable/unwilling to negotiate a contract with Pacific Power. MetroFi wanted a discount, Pacific Power didn’t see fit to offer one. You can determine who you think is the bad-guy in that scenario, but the answer to your concerns is out there.

    Here’s a Willy Week story about the Pacific Power impasse: http://wweek.com/editorial/3342/9469/

    There’s a strong argument here for grassroots/community driven work to provide free wireless service. Personal Telco has been working on this for 8 years, but we can’t do it without the support of volunteers who host and support nodes. If you’d like to get involved addressing the issue, please come to one of our meetings, join our mailing list/discussion group or talk to your neighbors about ways you can come together to create a local communal Internet access node.

    We’re here to help.

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