This has received wide play for some reason: The city council gave their official okay for the estimated $10m contract, the cost of which will be borne entirely by MetroFi. That firm said that they will start construction of the network immediately, building it over a period of two years. One losing bidder, VeriLAN, expresses skepticism over the free, ad-supported service model. And Personal Telco's head expect interference to be worse than advertised. The service is 1 Mbps down and 256 Kbps for free with a required ad banner at all times. A $20/month subscription removes the ad banner. Higher speeds should be available for some higher cost, although that wasn't discussed in this article.
One issue about ad-supported networks that hasn't been widely discussed is that the revenue model usually looks at substituting full-time, heavy monthly users who would otherwise pay $20 retail to a firm like EarthLink, MobilePro, or MetroFi getting service for free. But this ignores what will likely be a very large audience of occasional users who wouldn't pay the day rate for the service, and who might not like what is typically a ratcheted down free service in cities that also have for-fee services--they're usually slower, time limited, or have other restrictions.
Thus there's a residual additive ad revenue stream by capturing eyeballs from visitors, suburban residents who come in occasional, or those who have a high-speed connection at home and are only mobile at times. That may be part of the secret of cracking ad-supported free service, if that nut is profitable enough to crack in the long run.