7 Comments

Summary:

In what is proving to be yet another high-profile Metro Wi-Fi failure, MetroFi, a San Jose-based startup that raised over $15 million from Sevin Rosen and August Capital, is close to shutting down, according to WiFi NetNews and MuniWireless, two blogs that follow the MuniFi industry […]

In what is proving to be yet another high-profile Metro Wi-Fi failure, MetroFi, a San Jose-based startup that raised over $15 million from Sevin Rosen and August Capital, is close to shutting down, according to WiFi NetNews and MuniWireless, two blogs that follow the MuniFi industry closely.

MetroFi is trying to sell its citywide Wi-Fi networks in Portland (Oregon), Aurora and Naperville (Illinois) and Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Foster City and Concord (California). MetroFi founder, Chuck Haas, says he is also exploring the sale of MetroFi itself to a third party.


MetroFi had started to offer ad-supported wireless access in many cities, except it couldn’t find any traction. I think with all the noise Google made, even that company has backed away from WiFi-access based on advertising. There were a few others that have found going really tough when it comes to MuniFi. The trials and tribulations of EarthLink are well known by now. Glenn Fleishman blames EarthLink for the current spate of industry problems. And he’s not far off the mark, though I think the sector became a victim of its overambition.

EarthLink was in many ways largely responsible for the mess that all Wi-Fi providers found themselves in last year by offering to build Philadelphia’s network back in 2005 at no cost to the city—in fact, paying the city and the local utility fees. That set the stage for nearly all the RFPs that followed where, if EarthLink were a bidder or the city was aware of the alternatives, the notion was that no city dollars would be spent, even if taxpayer money wasn’t “at risk”—that is, even if a city could save money by switching current line items in their telecom and data budget to a wireless network.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

By Om Malik

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Glenn Fleishman Friday, May 16, 2008

    I will not deny the overambition, my friend! Clearly, the wrong engineering, the wrong penetration estimates (15 to 25 percent of all households!), the wrong business model (we pay everything), the wrong timing (incumbents got smarter, competed).

    The engineering is one of the key things. It’s hard to say that any one company set expectations incorrectly, but when you have a plan that calls for 20 to 25 Wi-Fi nodes at $1,000 to $4,000 a pop going to needing 50 or more for the initial service plus $100 to $200 signal boosters within homes–that price just isn’t cheap any more.

    Muni Wi-Fi still has a place for outdoor-only applications. It’s very very hard to get any wireless signal indoors.

  2. The broken Wifi business model’s latest casualty: MetroFi | Friday, May 16, 2008

    [...] You’ve seen this said time and time again on this blog, if you want to do get Wifi working in your city either the city needs to build it using existing funds to do an existing job like meter reading or internal IT, or they need to stay out all together. Successful Wifi networks either public or private have been built as funded projects either with a specific job to do or as a community supported project, not as franchises to be taxed and micro managed. More proof lies in the demise of MetroFi. In what is proving to be yet another high-profile Metro Wi-Fi failure, MetroFi, a San Jose-based startup that raised over $15 million from Sevin Rosen & August Capital, is close to shutting down, according to WiFi NetNews and MuniWireless, two blogs that follow the MuniFi industry closely. MetroFi is trying to sell its citywide Wi-Fi networks in Portland (Oregon), Aurora and Naperville (Illinois) and Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Foster City and Concord (California). MetroFi founder, Chuck Haas, says he is also exploring the sale of MetroFi itself to a third party. (GigaOm) [...]

  3. I thought this was too good to last – The nearest Metro-Fi box is across the street from my house, so I almost always had a good signal.

    Okay – what do I do now? Is there a dial-up available? Where do I turn? I don’t want to invest in cable or dish just for e-mail and internet.

    Someone reply please…

    Alex Howard

  4. Looks like coffee house slumming for you Alex!

  5. Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 26 » Silicon Florist Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    [...] MetroFi Is Dot.Gone The Portland citywide free wifi demise is complete, according to Om Malik, who writes “In what is proving to be yet another high-profile Metro Wi-Fi failure, MetroFi, a San Jose-based startup that raised over $15 million from Sevin Rosen and August Capital, is close to shutting down, according to WiFi NetNews and MuniWireless, two blogs that follow the MuniFi industry closely.” Long live Personal Telco! [...]

  6. Something Nice to Start The Day: BooRah – GigaOM Thursday, May 29, 2008

    [...] web site BooRah, a semantic vertical search engine founded by former MetroFi employees, has indexed 100,000 blogs and over 100 review sites to create a nice restaurant review [...]

  7. Berlino avrà presto una rete wireless gratuita per tutta la città « News Europa Friday, February 27, 2009

    [...] Portland in Oregon e Sunnyvale in California. Adesso queste reti non sono più attive dopo il fallimento di MetroFi che non è riuscita a sostenersi tramite la [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post