Why, Oh Why Must the Wi-Fi Die?

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.

  • Crawdude

    Oh no, what will the Pearlites do? They are losing on of their “free for me, paid for by others” luxuries. Whats next? No more free Max rides? When will this insanity stop?

  • RinoWatch

    I was in California recently in a City that has Wi-Fi “available” and “Free”.

    If you sit directly under a streetlight that has a Wi-FIi transmitter mounted it works ok — 200 ft away it fades — 400 ft Fuhgedabouit.

    If you spend @ $50-$100 for a booster and you are outside Wi-Fi is a crap shoot — inside the house Fuhgedabouit…..

  • John Fairplay

    This is yet another example (as if we needed one) of why government should refrain from attempting to compete with private business. Even with the tremendous financial advantage government enjoys, it is completely incapable of providing even the simplest service less expensively or more efficiently then a private business can.

  • Bob Clark

    It’s not going to get any better. The City-that-perceives-itself-as-working is reportedly now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars studying and planning a fibre optics system. Never mind many Portlanders already have pretty reliable broadband service through their phone company or cable system. Never mind that technology is evolving and that many private plans are springing forth to bring high speed wireless internet service to phones and computers. Nope this city wants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building its own government system, maybe in the hopes of getting another charge on our sewer and water bills. It would seem a lot less expensive just to provide some stipends to low income folk who can’t make it to the library so they could subscribe to an existing service.