Microsoft Edges Into Muni Wi-Fi

Beginning next month, when users log onto the service they'll be greeted by a Microsoft MSN screen as well as messages with a Portland orientation, including weather forecasts, local news, and restaurant reviews. The service will deliver speeds of up to 1 Mbps downlink and 256 Kbps uplink. MetroFi will offer a faster and ad-free service for $20 a month.

"With this Portland pilot, we will deliver MSN services that help connect customers to the people and information they care about," said Sam Klepper, general manager in the MSN Media Network Group at Microsoft, in a statement.

Microsoft said it's designing a suite of Internet services that will help consumers find relevant Portland-oriented information.

Municipal Wi-Fi services have been sweeping the nation with varying degrees of success and failure. Cincinnati, for instance, offers free Wi-Fi access through a program that uses a network of sponsors. But Wi-Fi municipal deployment can be challenging as evidenced by Sacramento, Calif.'s recent problems.

Sponsored post

According to the Portland Oregonian newspaper, MetroFi will finance the network, which will cover 95% of the city by mid-2008. The network will formally launch next month in downtown Portland, a city of about 500,000 residents.

MetroFi is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., near Microsoft's arch-rival in search Google, which is rolling out a free W-Fi network in that municipality. While the Google search box will surely appear first to users in Mountain View, users of the new Portland Wi-Fi network will see the Microsoft search box first.