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City, Media

City-wide Wi-Fi isn't nigh

Posted by John / May 1, 2006

wi-fi-zone.gifFor reasons not entirely clear to me, numerous North American cities have been developing ambitious wi-fi plans to cover their entire downtown cores. For free. Forget about the homeless people or increasingly struggling public transit networks -- the laptop set need to be able to waste time reading blogs increase their productivity by hitting the information superhighway from park benches and bus stops.

It seems like an especially odd endeavour when you consider that it could freeze out telecom firms planning to capitalize on the fast-rising demand for high-speed. If you've tried to go online in an airport or certain cafés, you've seen the future according to Rogers and Bell, and it costs anywhere from $4.99 an hour up. Who would pay that when there's free municipal wireless all over the place? Answer: dumb people.

Of course, those same telecom firms stand to gain from any city wi-fi plan, since they'll still supply the digital backbone. There are reservations about the way some plans are being implemented with corporate assistance. And many municipal plans involve eventual fees.

Still, sounds awesome, possibly, though Montreal won't be getting it anytime soon, reports Roberto Rocha of the Gazette:

The number of U.S. cities and counties with wide-scale networks is 193 and rising, according to the Wi-Fi news site muniwireless.com.

Today, cities are dreaming big: some, like San Francisco, want free access for all within city limits.

Montreal, though aware of this, has no plans to build such a system now, though it does envision one for the distant future.

In the meantime, city administrators are looking at what other cities are doing, spokesperson Darren Becker said.

In the meantime, we'll have to make do with ÃŽle sans fil, which doesn't allow SMTP exchanges (i.e., sending non web-based email). Or we could move to Fredericton, N.B.

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