SF Keeping the MuniFi Dream Alive at Bus Stops

Thanks to a housing crisis and the ensuing economic meltdown, many U.S. cities decided to back off their original Municipal Wi-Fi plans. San Francisco, however, was seen as the epicenter of the municipal revolution. Unfortunately that never happened and all we have is a handful of free network rollouts, including the Free The Net SF run by San Francisco-based hardware maker, Meraki.
Now comes word that by 2013, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will install 360 new bus stops powered by solar panels that will, in turn, power Wi-Fi routers and digital information panels, with any unused energy being pumped into the city’s grid. Popular Mechanics reports: Read More about SF Keeping the MuniFi Dream Alive at Bus Stops

More Proof People Really Love Wi-Fi, Especially on the iPhone

[qi:___wifi] It’s hard to imagine a time when laptops needed big ugly PC cards to access Wi-Fi networks built with Lucent access points that cost more than today’s netbooks. Ten years later, it’s impossible to find a computing device without Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi networks are everywhere. Every time I open my Macbook Air in my apartment, I am greeted by nearly 15 wireless networks. Such proliferation has changed our expectations of Wi-Fi. These expectations were part of the conclusions drawn from a survey of 2,700 Wi-Fi users –- 70 percent of them between the ages 18 and 45 — conducted by Decipher, a research company, on behalf of Devicescape, a San Bruno, Calif.-based wireless software vendor. Here are some of the key findings:

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Wireless Philadelphia: Back From the Dead

Remember the much-ballyhooed Wireless Philadelphia MuniFi networking effort that was going to be the cornerstone of a new EarthLink? The very same network that the Atlanta-based ISP had to abandon because it found itself sinking in financial quicksand? Many of us thought that the network that cost $17 million to build was dead.

EarthLink offered to give away the network for free to the city, but there were political issues that could not be resolved. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the rumors of its demise might have been greatly exaggerated. Later today, a new investor group will announce that it’s jumping in to save the network at the urging of local politicians, though the plan is to put the network to more governmental use.

The investor group, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, is made up of local money men Derek Pew and Mark Rupp. Pew was once an interim chief executive officer of Wireless Philadelphia; he now runs his own company, Boathouse Communications. Rupp, an ex-Verizon executive, works for Boathouse as well. I will try to update when the official press release comes out.

MetroFi Is Dot.Gone

In what is proving to be yet another high-profile Metro Wi-Fi failure, MetroFi, a San Jose-based startup that raised over $15 million from Sevin Rosen and August Capital, is close to shutting down, according to WiFi NetNews and MuniWireless, two blogs that follow the MuniFi industry closely.

MetroFi is trying to sell its citywide Wi-Fi networks in Portland (Oregon), Aurora and Naperville (Illinois) and Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Foster City and Concord (California). MetroFi founder, Chuck Haas, says he is also exploring the sale of MetroFi itself to a third party.

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