Doomed citywide WiFi now coming down, costing taxpayers

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by Eric Adams

kgw.com

Posted on January 22, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Portland taxpayers could pay up to $60,000 toward removing the city's doomed wireless network.

Internet hardware left by now-defunct MetroFi has started coming down, according to City Hall. MetroFi is a California-based company that tried establishing wireless Internet networking in several San Francisco Bay Area cities, Portland and Aurora, Ill.

MetroFi initially paid a $30,000 bond toward any costs the city accrued if the project ever came down. However, estimates for pulling the 600 antennae - installed on various streetlights covering about one-fifth of Portland - have run between $60,000 and $90,000.

A 2007 report credited to Caleb Phillips and Russell Senior, who now works with the Portland non-profit Personal Telco, concluded that the wireless network offered users a 58 percent chance of  "usable coverage."

About a year later, in June 2008, MetroFi stopped supporting the network.
 
The City of Portland intended to donate some of the pulled networking to Personal Telco Project, which intends to help city neighborhoods build their own Internet networks with Wi-Fi, according to its website.

Personal Telco states it began in 2000 and seeks to link wireless hotspots to allow Internet access across the city.

The non-profit believes that bad networking - not the antennae hardware - doomed the MetroFi concept.

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