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First Thoughts On Toronto's WiFi Network

One Degree:Patrick, how do you think Toronto Hydro has done with the launch of the first phase of the Toronto WiFi blanket, and “have your initial thoughts”: changes since the March announcement?”
Patrick Dinnen: I would give Toronto Hydro Telecom a qualified thumbs up for their launch.
It remains to be seen, but I suspect that THT may find that they need to work on managing customer expectations. The “THT website”: uses phrases like ‘blanket of WiFi coverage in the downtown Toronto core’ and ‘ubiquitous WiFi coverage zone’, but “the experience on the ground”: may be somewhat different.
Technically what THT are trying to do is very ambitious and really stretches the technology a long way, so the fact that there are some dead spots in the coverage is no surprise, but you need to make sure your customers understand the limitations. This becomes particularly true once the initial six-month free trial period is over. I may not mind moving to another table in the cafe to get a signal while I’m not paying for the service, but at $29/month my perception changes.
I don’t think my thoughts on what needs to happen to make this project a complete success have changed since launch.
To recap, THT should be:
* consulting with the public
* working to address the needs of underserved communities and small businesses
* considering providing free Internet access in public spaces on an ongoing basis.
There are some signs that thought is being given to these issues by various people.
For example, “Wireless Toronto”: and THT have had some initial conversations about the possibilities for community related initiatives and there was “a piece in the Star”: last week, which asked whether the network would provide more value to Toronto if it remained a free service.
So, I’m still hopeful about the potential of the THT network but don’t think it’s being met quite yet.

One Comment

  1. Trevor Stafford
    Trevor Stafford September 15, 2006

    Toronto Hydro Telecom doesn’t get it.
    I live, work and perambulate throughout the financial core. I’d say that I get an adequate signal strength on my laptop less than 30% of the time – even outdoors.
    That’s not why I’m complaining, however. It IS free after all and really a ‘beta’ without the toe-tag. I know that.
    Why I snicker is THT’s failure to build a conversational relationship with anyone who is using/testing/enjoying/hating their rollout. Where is the user forum on the THT site? Why didn’t they build a dedicated site for the launch? Why not a wiki where REAL questions can be posted and answered in real time? Have they been under a rock?
    Given how poor the customer service of the Internet-serving incumbents is (Rogers, Bell), you’d think THT would be begging potential customers to contact them. They could agile while the big boys stumble. Instead they blew it.

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