Another try at WiFi for Portland? Don’t bet on it

| Print |  Email
Friday, August 01, 2008

PORTLAND In early July, Portland’s year-and-a-half-long experiment to create a citywide wireless Internet network came to an end. Its demise was, for many, unsurprising.

The system, which was expected to cover 90% of the city, covered perhaps as little as 12%, and even then access was spotty or required special equipment to connect. As of July, there were no other companies that had expressed interest in building a similar network, says Logan Kleier, the Portland city staffer who oversaw the project. But should another company try again, they may have an equally difficult time.

The project was unsuccessful for a simple reason, says Kleier: MetroFi — the Mountain View, Calif.-based company that contracted with Portland to build the network — failed to generate sufficient money through either of its revenue models: free, ad-supported access to the network, or ad-free subscription access. MetroFi did not respond to interview requests for this story.

There were other conditions that made it difficult for MetroFi to achieve the kind of coverage it needed to become viable, says Russell Senior with Personal Telco, a local project dedicated to expanding wireless networks in Portland. Last year Senior and other members of Personal Telco analyzed the signal of each of MetroFi’s 641 nodes (the utility-pole-mounted hardware that formed the backbone of the network).

Their analysis showed that only 12% of the city was covered — as opposed to MetroFi’s claim of 30%. They found that nodes were strong enough to broadcast a signal to people’s homes, but weren’t strong enough to “hear” a signal from individual computers. The nodes were so low that buildings and Portland’s many trees stymied their communication. The resulting lack of access meant the company couldn’t generate the advertising or subscription dollars needed.

As for future wireless projects, Senior’s group is developing a network built on small, individually operated wireless hotspots. Portland-based Stephouse Networks is providing limited free and subscription-based WiFi in downtown and north Portland. Kleier says that the city has no plans, nor the ability to implement something of its own.            

ABRAHAM HYATT


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Healthcare pullback

News
Thursday, November 20, 2014
112014-boehnercare-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

Woman of Steel

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Tamara Lundgren tackles the challenges—without getting trampled.


Read more...

The Bookseller

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.


Read more...

Three problems with Obama's immigration order

News
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR112614-immigration-thumb

By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Downtime

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS