Portland Goes MetroFi

Just when you thought Earthlink-Google combo was going to take over all city WiFi projects, MetroFi, pulls one out of the hat. The company has been selected by the City of Portland, for building and operating a citywide Wi-Fi network. As part of the deal, the company will provide access to city agencies. The City of Portland is about 134 square miles and has a population of approximately 540,000. It will be an ad-supported network, and an ad-free service will cost $20.00 per month. Portland Business Journal brought up the issue of the biggest concern about MetroFi, when compared with its main rivals.

However, the city “had discussions with their venture partners and with one board member” in particular, said Lampe. All the venture partners are very much interested in the Portland project, and Frank Marshall, a MetroFi board member, has assured the city that if necessary, he and MetroFi CEO and founder Chuck Haas would handle the entire cost of installing the city’s wireless network between them. The network is estimated to cost at least $10 million.

MetroFi also provides service in Santa Clara, Cupertino, and Sunnyvale. It is also going to provide access in Aurora, Illinois. MetroFi has traditionally used SkyPilot gear, and there is a good chance that MetroFi is going to stick with their vendor. A few weeks ago Chuck Haas, the chief executive officer of MetroFi had predicted that there will be wifi in most major metros across the US in five years. (A quick poll of GigaOM readers showed that 33% agreed with him, while 40% of those polled thought it could take a little longer than that.)