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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 20, 2006 at 3:11 PM

Portland’s free citywide Wi-Fi project

I wish I’d mentioned Portland’s project in Monday’s column.

The city chose MetroFi to develop a network that’s being designed to provide 1 Mbps downloads to 95 percent of the city within two years. It’s going to the city council this week for final approval.

“The contract doesn’t require the city to help finance the $10 million network, for example, or to spend any money on wireless services,” the Oregonian reported.

MetroFi expects to make money by selling banner ads. Portland residents can buy ad-free service for $20 a month.

The system won’t be fast enough to deliver high-def video, but it’s four times faster than the basic DSL service that Qwest now provides in Seattle for about $30 a month.

How did Portland land the contract? The city offered to be the network’s “anchor tenant” under a deal that may save the city money, if the network works as promised.

The Oregonian reported:

Portland also plans to subscribe to the network for far-flung city offices and, if technical issues can be worked out, to cut the cost of collecting credit card data from its automated parking meters. MetroFi’s contract sets a $9 monthly fee to serve each meter, for example, compared to at least $15 a month that Portland now pays.

In total, Portland estimates it could spend up to $16 million over five years on wireless services from MetroFi. While it has no formal commitment to spend anything, Kleier said, the city considers the service a good deal — provided MetroFi’s service works.

Comments | More in | Topics: Public policy, Telecom

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