And Metro-Fi Flipped the Switch…

And nothing happened. Actually, worse. Almost nothing happened.

I’ve been bagging on Metro-Fi for some time. Although I applaud the concept of free city-wide WiFi, I think the perpetual promise of it, combined with perpetual under-performance, sucks.

In past posts I’ve noted that there’s a Metro-Fi beacon near my house in SE Portland (about 100′ away, in fact) and I’ve been continually irked by the combination of its presence and the entire lack of signal when I try to use it. That, in fact, has been just the teeniest bit more annoying to me than being downtown with towers everywhere, signal everywhere, and a nigh-perpetual lack of connectibility.

So I had only a faint glimmer of excitement at a recent e-mail I got, which announced the following:

MetroFi Doubles Its Coverage Area in Portland!

We’re very happy to announce that we turned on a large new section of our MetroFi Portland Wi-Fi network on April 12, 2007 – effectively increasing its size by 140%. This means that thousands of Portland residents, commuters, businesses and visitors can now surf the web using MetroFi’s fast, free wireless Internet service in more areas within Portland.

So on Friday, I decided to try again. And now, there’s a signal at my home.

But here’s the rub. Whereas it used to be super-annoying to me to have a beacon with no signal, now I’m in the same vein as the rest of town in having a signal and not being able to connect. In several tries this weekend (including two sitting about 10′ away from the utility pole on which the beacon is mounted, with lots of signal showing up on my WiFi-enabled device that I regularly use to connect to signals all over the place), I have tried and successfully failed (which is successful by virtue of the fact that I was mostly trying, at that point, to reinforce my own concept of the futilty of Metro-Fi) every single time I’ve tried this weekend to get an actual connection accomplished.

So, I continue to regard Metro-Fi as a failure, even as it’s being touted (by the city and itself) as a success. How ’bout you?

6 Comments so far

  1. Steve (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 12:58 am

    Hey Rusty?

    When you get connected with no traffic can you go into the command prompt, type in ipconfig and tell me what your IP address and gateway is?

    Most times we find it starts 169.254 and the network is having some issues, or you need the winsock fix, which is found on google.

  2. Devan Robbins (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 1:39 am

    I fully intend to go out to a newly “turned on” (that sounds kind of dirty lol) hot spot, sit on the corner by the access point with my laptop and wireless diagnostics software and try to connect this week sometime… I may make an afternoon of it. I have heard so many people who have said the same thing i expect it to be an exercise in futility, but i (of course) want to see for myself… it is certainly not what we were hoping for is it?

  3. Reid Beels (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 1:52 am

    Speaking as the resident “works for me” guy, what hardware / software config are you using?

    I’ve had a few issues with it not redirecting to their captive portal / authentication page, but it’s always worked after a few seconds of trying.

  4. Rusty (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 8:12 am

    Mostly I try with my WiFi enabled Palm T|X. And it works for all sorts of things (airport, various hotspots around town, and even Metro-Fi a very few times) so I don’t think it is a problem on my end.

    And that connects prior to me opening the web, so it I wouldn’t notice the failure to re-direct until I established a successful connection (I’ve never had a re-direct problem in the places like PDX, Redmond’s airport, or other places like that where a re-direction occurs). Of course, since I generally only see the “Connection Failed,” there’s never a chance to fail at a re-direct.

    I’ve also tried on my work laptop, and despite getting a signal have never been able to connect with that either.

  5. Steve (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 12:35 pm


    The problem I see is that Metro Fi wants to bring you ads on that T|X. Have you been able to connect anywhere on their network with your T|X?

    The pocket PC browsers are often dumbed down versions of the full meal deal. Taken your laptop or desktop for a shot?

  6. Rusty (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 12:39 pm


    I have gotten on to MetroFi on my T|X. Once while I was by the library downtown, and I think once or twice in other downtown locales. But generally no luck. But, again, I can’t get a chance to not get the ads if my Palm can’t even get a connection established.

    And, as I noted above, I’ve tried my work laptop downtown, where I get a signal, and haven’t been able to get on with it.

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