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.
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 commuity 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>