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Portland's MetroFi Nodes Still Hanging on - Wi-Fi Networking News
With Municipal Broadband, Cities Are Taking Back the Internet—and Making It Faster and Cheaper. Can Portland Do the Same? - The Portland Mercury
MuniFi: Build it and they still don't come? - GigaOm
August 2008 Archives - Wi-Fi Networking News
Hot Spot Advertising Archives - Wi-Fi Networking News
Whatever happened to municipal Wi-Fi? - The Economist
Wireless Internet for All, Without the Towers - New York Times
Cartoon Ethics on Wi-Fi - Wi-Fi Networking News
Mesh Archives - Wi-Fi Networking News
Cities Gone Wireless: Safety Or Surveillance? - NPR
May 16, 2008 - MetroFi Seeks Buyer of its Muni Networks
"MetroFi is trying to sell its citywide Wi-Fi networks in Portland (Oregon), Aurora and Naperville (Illinois) and Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Foster City and Concord (California). MetroFi founder, Chuck Haas, says he is also exploring the sale of MetroFi itself to a third party."
May 13, 2008 - MetroFi sends a letter to Portland setting out three exit plans for its now certain demise.
"I am writing today to request a call or meeting with you to discuss the City of Portland network. MetroFi’s goal was to have the City of Portland network producing enough revenue to cover expenses and even with the roll out of Microsoft SideGuide, the best advertising platform we have for Wi-Fi revenue generation, we are still not covering our costs for network operation and maintenance. As I discussed on the phone, MetroFi has three options to consider. The first is for the City to purchase the network from MetroFi; the second is to sell the network to a 3rd party; the third is to shut the network down."
Apr 21, 2008 - Wherefore art thou, Wi-Fi?
Deputy city attorney Kalei Taylor wrote that Portland considers the company "in default of contract" for, among other things...
- Failing to submit regular installation reports on its Wi-Fi antennas
- Absence of an "ongoing maintenance schedule which checks to see if equipment is in good condition"
Failing to address whether MetroFi advertising partner MSN "is collecting any personally identifiable information beyond what is required to operate services," and whether MSN is sharing any of that info with anyone.
- Not using "reasonable best efforts" to complete the network within 24 months of its contract (that would be July or August of this year)
- Failing to give 180 days notice before halting network buildout
Taylor gave MetroFi 45 days to resolve those issues, and warned that failure to do so "may terminate the contract."
Apr 21, 2008 - What did Wi-Fi cost?
Apr 20, 2008 - Will Portland's Wi-Fi disconnect?
Apr 18, 2008 - KGW - Problem stalls citywide[sic] Wi-Fi
Apr 18, 2008 - http://thingsaboutportlandthatsuck.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/26-metrofi/ - Local blog post on MetroFi
Mar 05, 2008 - Metrofi - Dead in the Water
Feb 02, 2008 - MetroFi seeks emergency cash for wireless network
Who didn't see this coming? The inevitable death of MetroFi finally rears it's ugly head. After failing to commit to their obligations to the City of Portland, what's next?
Oct 16, 2007 - Novaram reports their findings on MetroFi's Portland network
Novaram, a municipal WiFi auditing firm, suggests 40 nodes per square mile are needed in order to approach 100% coverage. MetroFi has installed at a density of 25-30 nodes per square mile in Portland. A usability percentage of ~60%, calculated by another independent group, UnwirePDX-Watch, seems to verify these findings as well. Belanger, from Novarum, had this to say about testing MetroFi's Portland network:
- “We were so disappointed with the results, that we’ve gone back and tested it again” in the third quarter of 2007, wondering if they had just hit a bad day on the network. But the results were consistent.
Glenn Fleishman also writes:
- With a node density of roughly 30 per square in the areas tested in Portland, Novarum found service “very poor” with a regular client. They also found that the session-based login would time out even when they were actively using the network, requiring a new login. (Belanger noted that Novarum had bid as a service auditor for the city of Portland’s evaluation of the network, which another firm won.)
Oct 5, 2007 - Mike Rogoway writes: Mayor Tom Potter's office says this morning that wireless contractor MetroFi Inc. will stop expanding Portland's free Wi-Fi network, but that the company plans to continue operating the portion of the network already operating. MetroFi currently serves about one-fifth of Portland.
- "Our Portland network is 20% complete with nearly 70 new outdoor access points turned on in May 2007. Seventeen neighborhoods now have areas of coverage, with preliminary deployment begun in 14 more. Utilization is also on the rise: there were over 11,000 individual users in May -- a 40% increase from April."
Where do they come up with these numbers, exactly? Users who associated to the AccessPoint, got an IP address via DHCP or clicked on their splash page? Typically, this information should be thrown out as it's extremely unreliable until they have the decency to explain where and how they gather this data.
Glenn Fleishman has the same take:
"MetroFi coincidentally (or not) released usage numbers for Portland for June: 13,000 unique registered users, 150,000 hours, 96,000 sessions. I’d like them to be fully transparent and release statistics about session churn: how many users connect, send very little data, lose a connection, re-connect, and so on. I’m sure they gather that data."
Welcome to the sales department!
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r18697666-Clarifying-the-facts - Denise Graab's "facts"
- "The free lunch era is over. Cities cannot expect to receive free data communications services and provide free service to residents without assisting a service provider in identifying a revenue stream that makes the project economically viable to all involved. Muni wireless is not, and never should have been regarded as, a gift horse. Business plans, such as the one which was carefully developed in Toledo, Ohio, can be identified to produce cost savings that insure deployments with minimal financial impact on a city budget. Others with unique demographics, such as Ocean City, New Jersey, can even produce revenue streams for a city. But, however it is done, service providers cannot be expected to bear all the risk and not share in the rewards."
See this entire page
Statement to Network Surveyors
From KGW: http://www.kgw.com/news/pdf/MetroFi.pdf
Hosted here: MetroFi.pdf
Date: March 29, 2007
Topic: Unofficial evaluation/report by Personal Telco Project, re: the two-square mile Proof of Concept, municipal Wi-Fi network that MetroFi designed, built and operates for the City of Portland (Oregon)
Comment: As part of our contract with the City of Portland, MetroFi built a state-of-the-art Proof of Concept network over two square miles of downtown Portland, in advance of a city-wide deployment that will cover approximately 95% of the city. When completed, the network will offer the convenience and mobility of almost anywhere/anytime Internet access to Portland's residents and local businesses. This municipal wireless network is also designed to help the City of Portland improve productivity for mobile city workers and city services.
To evaluate the Proof of Concept network, the City of Portland selected an independent firm, Uptown Services instead of Personal Telco Project, which also submitted a bid in response to a city RFP (request for proposal). Municipal wireless is still in its infancy, and there are few qualified experts in this new area of city-wide network assessment, which is significantly more complex than local hotspot testing. MetroFi respects the City's vendor choice, and awaits the results of Uptown Services' impartial evaluation within the next few weeks.
Personal Telco's own unofficial testing effort is clearly not independent or impartial, and we can only presume that it's driven by their perception that we are a competitor in their local hotspot deployment project. We don't view Personal Telco as a competitor, but rather as a partner who can offer indoor coverage in locations where perhaps we can't and can also offer Portland residents an additional option for free Wi-Fi access a great outcome for Portland's residents.
In the meantime, the current MetroFi coverage area continues to attract more and more Portland users every day, and total usage has tripled since its launch in December 2006. This week, MetroFi launched a new local network portal, www.MetroFiPortland.com, where residents can learn about coverage updates, network information and customer stories. We are also looking forward to turning on the hundreds of additional Wi-Fi access points that have been installed in Portland, but await the completion of the Proof of Concept testing and the City's issuance of the Certificate of Acceptance.
Note: On October 17th, 2007, Ms Graab wrote to disclaim personal responsibility for this Media Statement, indicating that it was a statement from MetroFi as an organization, and that she feels that focusing attention on her personally is unfair. --RussellSenior
Then explain to me what the purpose of signing a statement is? Why have a Spokesperson when they can't even, or shouldn't, use their name? We all know the great thing about a corporation is to hide behind the name, but when you sign letters, it is *you* signing them. --JasonMcArthur
In October 2007, PTP President MichaelWeinberg wrote MetroFi CEO ChuckHaas privately to request that MetroFi cease attacking the credibility of Personal Telco affiliated critics, and instead rebut their technical arguments. Mr. Haas replied asking to have a phone conversation, but did not follow up with an actual phone call. Nonetheless, it may be noted that there were no subsequent attacks to PTP's credibility in the minimal press statements from MetroFi after October 2007.
It seems Denise Graab discredits Senior's and Philip's ability to gather and plot wireless data. This is something we and the open source community have taught others to do quite easily for a number of years. Obviously, the fact that they are installing "city-wide" wireless, it's still 802.11, something that actually quite a few people _do_ understand. This technology is nothing new at all, nor are the tools necessary for a survey. But again, MetroFi and others will view the results as unofficial/unprofessional because of the association of Russell and Caleb with Personal Telco. If it was officially Personal Telco that conducted these findings, why we even consider gathering false data and/or giving skewed results? What would be the benefit? There has been software available for a few years now that do this type of work extremely well. Just because they chose free/open software, and two men decided to take on this task (also for free), and any other bogus reason, does not mean their results should be dismissed. Russell and Caleb are just taking the tools and knowledge they gained from the group and the entire wireless community to do what they know how to do. This is essentially the main goal of Personal Telco. I, and plenty others in the group, gather wireless network data to test out locations, hardware setups, range and reliability. Russell and Caleb have been the most active in this specific arena _before_ all of this muni-wifi buzz hit Portland.
As been stated time and time again, there is NO competition between MetroFi and Personal Telco. How could there possibly be? A number of _volunteers_ over the years have just used the hotspot avenue to keep members in the group busy as well as to attract a sense of community through only the means of using www.personaltelco.net as the SSID. It also seems there is a serious amount of confusion as to what Personal Telco really is. People, especially some journalists (you'd think they'd have it figured out by now), need to understand it's essentially a community that teaches others about wireless; inspires them to write software and build hardware that's related to wireless; dropping some of these creations into cafes and other businesses; installing neighborhood networks (i.e., Arbor Lodge Park, Mississippi Historical District), and, of course, having fun in the process. <gasp>
- Wow! Dear Denise.
> To evaluate the Proof of Concept network, the City of Portland selected an
> independent firm, Uptown Services instead of Personal Telco Project, which
> also submitted a bid in response to a city RFP (request for proposal).
PTP didn't submit this, and I haven't seen a single article that said they did. Two PTP members did it, and they presented their findings at the most logical venue in Portland, a meeting of wireless enthusiasts.
> Municipal wireless is still in its infancy, and there are few qualified
> experts in this new area of city-wide network assessment, which is
> significantly more complex than local hotspot testing. MetroFi respects
> the City's vendor choice, and awaits the results of Uptown Services' impartial
> evaluation within the next few weeks.
Based on the recent Uptown whitepaper, many city-wide networks are suffering from similar service problems to those described by early users of the MetroFi Portland deployment. Will you continue to cast aspersions about the qualifications of those who test the network if Uptown also finds that 95% is a pipe-dream? The fact is, Caleb and Russell are quite qualified to test what they tested. They presented excellent methodology, which, as one wireless equipment vendor and integrator on many municipal deployments stated, was more thorough than much "expert" testing.
You might be a little more kind to PTP, since it was this groups efforts, and the efforts of sister groups, long before MetroFi was even an idea, that spurred so many cities to even consider the idea of unwiring. Many people in our tech community, and especially those working with wireless networking, continue to look upon Personal Telco and it's membership as very well educated, experienced experts on wireless technology. It's a shame that outsiders choose to invent a vendetta in order to discredit individuals who have given hundreds of hours of their time to help Portlanders learn about, deploy and enjoy wireless networking. Caleb and Russell have illustrated with clear, scientific methods, what most residents in the MetroFi POC footprint have already noticed.
Once again, MetroFi is more interested in telling Portlanders how we're wrong, than in hearing our criticisms, and admitting when we're right.
Oh boy... I don't comment on this list much, but MetroFi's comments really struck a nerve...
>Municipal wireless is still in its infancy,
Define infancy? Heck, how long ago was Richochet doing their 900Mhz muni-wireless service (poor service, but still service).
>and there are few qualified experts in this new area of city-wide network assessment,
How hard is it to see whether or not the service performs as expected? As promised to the citizens of Portland? It shouldn't take an expensive consultant to figure out if one can reach an access point in the pre-determined test area!
>which is significantly more complex than local hotspot testing.
How so? You either can A) connect and B) pass traffic OR you can't! If you gave Joe MetroFi user some money and a giftcard to <insert favorite coffee shop here> and map of all the MetroFi access points and asked him to report back how many he could connect to - I wonder what his results would be??? Maybe that the networks isn't living up to the hype from MetroFi?
MetroFi is acting like a little bully who makes up for his inabilities by making someone else look worse...
If I were City of Portland I would boot their rawhide out of town just for making that statement...
- Dear Ms Graab:
In its March 29th media statement, MetroFi said:
- Personal Telco's own unofficial testing effort is clearly not independent or impartial, and we can only presume that it's driven by their perception that we are a competitor in their local hotspot deployment project.
"Not independent or partial"? This casts aspersions on the work of some good folks and avoids the real issues.
According to the Oregonian, Senior and Phillips randomly chose 78 locations within 1000 feet of a MetroFi antenna, and could only connect to 32 of them. They randomly chose 39 spots within 500 feet of an antenna, and could connect to 20 of them.
Unless you're suggesting that Senior and Phillips are not accurately describing what they saw, or used substandard equipment to attempt the connections, or somehow interfered with their equipment's ability to connect, the results seem to speak for themselves. Whether Senior and Phillips were feeling partial or impartial as they conducted their tests is not particularly relevant.
To succeed, MetroFi must treat community reports like this the way a good software company treats a bug report: as a contribution towards improving the service, not as an attack to be handled as a PR problem.
Is Portland MetroFi broken?
"Is anyone having a better experience with this service than I am? I would be curious to hear."
Unwired and Unloved - Negotiations with power company stall the expansion of free wi-fi.
“MetroFi spokeswoman Denise Graab didn’t return repeated calls.“
“Frankly, I’ve given them lots of slack,” says Sam Churchill, who runs the blog http://dailywireless.org from Northwest Portland, and spoke to MetroFi CEO Chuck Haas about the Pacific Power problem in May. “Christ…something should be happening, and all I hear are stories about what a piece of shit MetroFi is.”
WillyWeek's #1 Loser for the week of October 10th 2007
"Mayor Tom Potter’s office says the high-tech hucksters at MetroFi won’t succeed after all in building a free citywide wi-fi network. Turns out that no amount of empty promises—much less a signal booster—could make those magic beans grow."
http://community.livejournal.com/damnportlanders/10911978.html A post on a Portland-related LiveJournal community gets attention from MetroFi's PR.
2008-01-09 Metrofi - Good luck getting free wireless.
And some have even called this _incomplete_ MetroFi network a success? Go figure.
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