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5/19/2008
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Nine More Municipal Wi-Fi Networks Slated For Closing

MetroFi once had big plans for Portland, Ore., as it intended to cover the city's 134 square miles with an ambitious ad-supported deployment.

The municipal Wi-Fi meltdown is continuing as MetroFi reported that it plans to vacate the muni Wi-Fi field. The company has Wi-Fi networking deals with nine cities, including Portland, Ore., its flagship operation.

The company's chief executive, Chuck Haas, announced Friday MetroFi's decision to sell the networks or, if there are no buyers, then to close the networks down.

MetroFi once had big designs for Portland as it intended to cover the city's 134 square miles with an ambitious ad-supported deployment. Microsoft even got involved and worked to prepare a suite of Portland-oriented applications.

But, like most municipal Wi-Fi deployments in the United States, the Portland deployment never got very far off the ground.

"MetroFi's network never reached beyond downtown and close-in eastside neighborhoods, and even there it failed to perform well," wrote a reporter in The Oregonian. "The project didn't attract the advertising MetroFi hoped for, and the company gave up on expanding the network before it reached the low-income parts of the city where city officials hoped it would do the most good."

MetroFi has offered to sell the network to the city for less then $900,000, but Portland officials haven't shown much interest in purchasing it, the newspaper reported. In a letter to city officials, MetroFi said: "We are looking to understand the city's position as soon as possible, as our intent is to begin network shutdown and equipment removal by the end of June if we do not have a buyer."

Other cities with MetroFi deployments that are facing end-of-life deployment include the California cities of Concord, Cupertino, Foster City, Riverside, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale, as well as Aurora, Ill.

Haas announced MetroFi's decision to sell or gradually close down its municipal networks in Wi-Fi Networking News late last week.

EarthLink, another major deployer of municipal Wi-Fi networks, has also been moving to sell or shut down its deployments in the cities where it has rolled out Wi-Fi networks.

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