OPB discovers that Metrofi is crap unless you are Kristian Foden-Vencil

From their article/story:

PORTLAND, OR 2007-07-02

It's been about six months since MetroFi first started building a free wi-fi network in Portland. So far, antennas have been installed across about one fifth of the city. By this time next year, the company says the whole city will be wireless. But the question is: How's it going? Can you surf the web from a street corner or log-on from home? Kristian Foden-Vencil dragged his laptop downtown to find out.

Metrofi Ad Van

“But not everybody has had such a positive experience. “–REALLY? There is a Metrofi node directly outside my apartment and no signal inside. On Saturday, I was at the Rogue Brewery with Eric Diamonds and Enigma. There was a node right there, we were outside, and Enigma had the new Iphone- ONE Bar… I vote to fire these people and give the money to Project/Personal Telco!

If you want to check the nodes where you live (and comment on your reception), go here:


You can find how close you are to a Node:
Click the neighborhood links below to download high resolution maps.
North | Northeast
Downtown | Southeast | Southwest


10 Responses to OPB discovers that Metrofi is crap unless you are Kristian Foden-Vencil

  1. Dan Kaufman July 2, 2007 at 5:13 pm #

    It’s hard to believe that nobody actually tested the system before installing hundreds of these wi-fi transmitters but that’s the only explanation I can come to after sitting directly under one of these transmitters (outside) and only getting a couple bars of signal. It was so slow I thought it wasn’t working until I realized I was at speeds slower than dial-up.

    It’s mind boggeling and sad.

  2. pdxpipeline July 2, 2007 at 5:24 pm #

    I’m sure someone other than the OPB guy has had a good experience…but I haven’t heard from them. On the other hand, I’ve heard many stories of problems. I had such high hopes of killing off that Comcast subscription.

  3. dave July 3, 2007 at 1:57 pm #

    The park blocks and Pioneer Courthouse Square have had free wi-fi via Portland Personal Telco years before the metro project started up. It worked really well. PSU has a very nice campus wide system.

    (I tested many locations around PSU and the square.)

    The metro project is a joke. Or possibly just poor RF design. I would suspect low bid syndrome as well but I have no evidence to support this.
    As for myself:
    I have nodes all around my hood and can see the SSIDs and sometimes I can even join. I may be able to authenticate, surf to a page or 2 then the signal level drops and I loose my authentication. i suppose if it detects a loss of signal from a client it unbinds the MAC address from the ip address puked to you during it’s intrusive authentication process. (They make you enter an email address.) Every single time I have attempted to use the service, this has been my experience.

    My guess as to why?:
    The RF level as well as the density of the nodes is a major reason why the experience is “Craptastic” at best.

    (Let’s not forget about the MSN underpinnings.)


  4. J.D. July 3, 2007 at 4:01 pm #

    The cronyism in this town stinks to high heaven!!!

  5. Russell Senior July 21, 2007 at 11:09 pm #

    Caleb Phillips and I performed an independent assessment of MetroFi coverage. The standard set out in the contract between the City and MetroFi was 90% of outdoor areas within the proof-of-concept network. The definition of the proof-of-concept that metrofi and the city agreed to was within 500 feet of an access point. Turns out that by that definition, the proof-of-concept network area was only 1.6 square miles, less than the minimum of 2 square miles called for in the contract, and less expansive than the 2.5 square miles claimed by MetroFi in public.

    In our investigation, we made a random selection of locations that were outdoors within 500 feet of an access point. We went to each of 53 locations and measured the ability to make a connection (minimum 64kbps up/down). We found that we were able to make a connection in 31 of those locations and failed in 22. The probability of a network with 90% outdoor coverage having that ratio of successes and failures is 2 in a billion.

    I believe that the fundamental problem is that at greater ranges, the access point is not able to hear the relatively weak radios in typical client devices.

    You can read our complete report (about 10 megabytes) at: http://unwirepdx-watch.org/files/report.pdf

  6. Iris August 7, 2007 at 11:39 pm #

    They make the signal so bad that you will buy a transmitter.
    They advertise it while you use it.

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