San Francisco Chronicle endorses city-wide Wi-Fi without any idea about how to get it: Funny editorial. It promotes the notion of "fast, reliable, and low-cost service" via Wi-Fi across the city, while noting that perhaps another model could be out there among hundreds of cities planning and building networks. But oddly for an editorial, they don't suggest any ideas. Let me suggest one: San Francisco needs to figure out first a set of objective goals which a Wi-Fi network would solve for the city, including shifting or reducing costs, improving education, and reducing crime. Come up with targets that could be achieved. Spend money on pilot projects. Do the resulting numbers match expectations? Tweak until they do, or give up as a bad job. If you figure out the right course, build larger. Too rational for a city government?
Portland, Ore., has "stubbornly resilient" network: The Oregonian reporter Mike Rogoway, who has been testing the Wi-Fi network for months, and following the finances behind MetroFi's rollout, has run the numbers and believes that the potential ad revenue is at least enough to produce a marginal return. He thinks 1b page views a year and $5m in advertising is a baseline. MetroFi says additional services they'll sell will turn that into a good profit. Chuck Haas is also quoted in this article stating that Portland probably has the most usage of any municipal network with 17,300 uniquely registered users in August; their service is ad-supported and free. The only possible exception is Taipei, Taiwan's larger network, but since that's a for-fee network, it's possibly still lower even with a larger built out area and a larger population. The city of Portland hasn't yet committed to purchasing specific services from MetroFi, but they negotiated a price schedule as part of the initial contract in case they choose to.
Long Island paper op-ed says private firm building Wi-Fi is extension of government: Raymond J. Keating suggests that despite the zero cost of the e-Path bid to install Wi-Fi in two counties in Long Island, that fact that there's practically no working model out there for this form of bid means that the counties will ultimately start pitching in dollars. He writes, "It turns out that free-ad and subscription-based municipal systems need the government to provide subsidies or to become major customers to be viable." The latter is simple enough: When municipalities spend millions or tens of millions a year to incumbent telecoms, that's somehow not seen as a subsidy, it's a business relationship.
Aurora, Ill., not happy with network build-out speed by MetroFi: The city has sounded patient in previous articles, where they've noted that in the first fully electrified town in the U.S. had issues with utility poles preventing a faster build-out. That's still an issue: MetroFi doesn't have an agreement with the utility; such an agreement would be the first in the state, and that may be what's taken so long. MetroFi notes that with just part of the town built out, they're seeing 1,500 monthly users averaging 30 hours a month each.
New Orleans's network won't expand: EarthLink's built out 20 sq mi of the city that's struggling to recover, but won't build the rest unless there's a commitment to city service purchases.
Milwaukee, Waukesha networks' update: The article notes how both Wisconsin cities' Wi-Fi providers are having trouble getting networks up and running. But the reporters also include a few howlers in the middle, by my lights: "In Chicago, EarthLink Inc. wanted massive public financing for a Wi-Fi system, said city officials there." There are a few other similar sentiments. First, Chicago was negotiating with both AT&T and EarthLink. Second, "massive public financing," "more government money," and the government "invests in building the infrastructure"? No. In virtually cases, cities are being asked to purchase services, moving dollars from a telecom bill currently paid to incumbents or competitive carriers; that's a far cry from subsidy, especially if the wireless provider can offer the same service for less money or a superior service for the same money.
SF Bay ISP subsidizes Meraki routers for customers to build networks supported by ads: Neat idea, reported by Om Malik, has Sonic.net selling the $49 mesh self-forming networks below that price, and providing an ad banner that can result in some small amount of money to its subscribers. They're trying to jump-start hotzones.