As I frantically search for one of the remaining nodes of the great and free City of Portland Wi-Fi network, I pause to consider just why this noble and valiant effort has crashed to earth like a de-orbiting Russian satellite. Here are the top five reasons:
5. Portland, The City that Works, spent one quarter of a million dollars on a study that said this plan will work! Then the city hired a Wi-Fi staffer to oversee the installation.
4. Portland, The City that Works, chose a start-up with no track record of success to install the numerous low-power nodes throughout the city.
3. Portland, The City that Works, noticed the signals were very spotty, highly erratic, and mentioned to users that a simple $100 signal booster for the “free” Wi-Fi should help.
2. Portland, The City that Works, noticed that 15,000 users per month signed on (an average of 500 users a day) to the free network that had cost 3 million dollars so far. The cost per user, then, was fast exceeding $200 and the network was supposed to help those who could not afford the more expensive cable and DSL.
1. Portland, The City that Works, mandated that the service be “free”. Free stuff always works well — remember the “free bikes” that were placed all over town for everyone to share? How’s that working? An ad-supported network to blanket the city with only 15,000 users a month? And, by definition, poor users who can not afford their own Internet access — excellent prospects for any advertiser.