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The Impact of Toronto's WiFi Blanket

Patrick Dinnen is a volunteer with the Wireless Toronto community group. Wireless Toronto launched in Spring 2005 with the goal of encouraging the growth of wireless networking and building community in interesting and innovative ways.
Since their launch, Wireless Toronto have formed partnerships with local businesses to create a network of free-to-use WiFi hotspots across the GTA. As well as hotspots in cafes, bars and restaurants Wireless Toronto switched on a free WiFi network covering the St Lawrence Market building in November 2005, creating Toronto’s largest public WiFi zone.

*One Degree:* “Patrick, what does the “Toronto Hydro WiFi blanket announcement”: mean to Toronto and to the “Wireless Toronto”: initiative?”
*Patrick Dinnen:* Thinking about these questions I come back to the goals of Wireless Toronto ‘a not-for-profit group dedicated to bringing no-fee wireless Internet access to Toronto. Our aim is to encourage the growth of wireless networking and to build community in interesting and innovative ways’. From that point of view, I think there’s much to be positive about in Toronto Hydro’s announcement.
Although we got some more details from Toronto Hydro today there are still a lot of unanswered questions. But right now, here’s what I feel:
Availability of competitively priced WiFi Internet access in 100% of the downtown core, which Toronto Hydro’s plan calls for, is a great move forward for Toronto residents, businesses and visitors.

But more than that, blanketing the downtown core with seamless, and lower-cost network access opens the door to multiple opportunities for innovation in access to information and communication for residents, community groups, underserved communities and small businesses. I strongly hope that those broader opportunities are seized.
In terms of what the announcement means for Wireless Toronto as a group, again it’s good news. This will give Torontonians a huge boost in terms of awareness and accessibility to WiFi. That will increase the number of people who use the free Wireless Toronto hotspots (which range from Oakville to Scarborough, Woodbridge to St. Lawrence Market). This increase in WiFi awareness can only help in Wireless Toronto’s goals of working with volunteers and partners to explore the opportunities for communication and community offered by WiFi.
I’d encourage One Degree readers to visit the Wireless Toronto blog. We hope to help people keep on top of the deluge of news and opinion around the topic of WiFi in Toronto, this is just just beginning.