Portland, Oregon, is seeing interest by bidders in plan to cover city with Wi-Fi service: Favor will be found with vendors who can incorporate limited no-cost access either by time or day or through a low-speed throttle. The proposal involves no city funds, much like Minneapolis's plan. The goal is to have downtown online by mid-2006 and the rest of the city by 2008. The city will guarantee certain kinds of business to the winning bidder.
This plan has generated virtually no organized opposition by competitive carriers possibly because the city lacks an intermediary such as in Philadelphia's situation. In Philadelphia, opponents claim that the non-profit that will deal with raising funds and operating the network through a contractor has no experience and will fail leaving taxpayers holding the bill. In Portland's situation, with no intermediate organization to which it will be committed, a private contractor failing to meet the goal would result in that contractor being replaced. And it's hard to argue that EarthLink or Qwest lacks the technical expertise to build or run such a network.
The Personal Telco Project has some objections as it's worried about interference with its existing community wireless footprint. This seems quite ridiculous as the Portland service will be primarily outside (and require bridges for inside use), and Personal Telco is unwiring mostly inside with a few outdoor venues. Channel selection and other factors should really make this issue moot. Nigel Ballard, a long-time member of Personal Telco, recently left the organization (where he volunteered) and his full-time day job to join Intel, which is a big backer of the plan happening in its own background.
The Personal Telco spokesperson said in the article, "It's like two cars driving on the same lane at the same time." That's a fundamental misrepresentation of Wi-Fi even through oversimplification. Rather, even when multiple access points are using the same channels in very close proximity--which will likely not be the case in Portland's rollout--it's more like a highway with many lanes and occasional congestion. The farther apart same-channel access points are placed, or the more directionally different their antenna radiation pattern, the less congested the highway.