The City of Guelph has not picked up on the whole WiFi hotspots (Wireless Internet) picking up around the world. Currently, the only spots I know to have some service is the University of Guelph. It has WiFi for Students (Public can access it via getting a card) at the Library, there is also WiFi Hotspots at selected businesses and cafes, in local hotels and of course in peoples homes. There is a limited WiFi service at the Guelph Pubic Libary Main Branch but not at any other branch, community centre, farmers market, or in large outdoor public places like St. Georges Square.In several cities worldwide, there has been a movement to create public wifi spots. Many of these have targets a park or public square but many others go across the entire city.
In Toronto, Ontario: Toronto Hydro Telecom launched a city-wide WiFi initiative called One Zone. The concept was simple: to provide people in Downtown Toronto with affordable wireless Internet. The area it covers is six square kilometers, the largest WiFi network in Canada. The wireless service was offered free of charge for a six month period that end recently and there are three options for users wanting to log on. There will be a $29 monthly subscription, a 24 hour subscription for $10, and an hourly subscription of $5 (Plus taxes)
Wireless Toronto provides Free Public WiFi services via community partners including local business. Wireless Toronto has set up free WiFi zones in many public areas including Dundas Square and a local Park. Wireless Toronto is a not-for-profit group dedicated to bringing no-fee wireless Internet access to Toronto. they aim is to encourage the growth of wireless networking and to build community in interesting and innovative ways.
In Goderich, Ontario: The Goderich Business Improvement Area with Bluewater TV Cable created a Free Public WiFi Zone on Court House Square, and at the Tourist Information Centre. Unlike One Zone,anyone with a laptop in The Square area can turn it on and access the official Web sites of the Town of Goderich, the BIA, Goderich & District Chamber of Commerce, and Heritage Goderich free of charge. However, those wishing to access other sites on the Internet will have to purchase an access code from local retailers or directly from Bluewater Cable. There is both hourly and monthly rates will be available which are significantly lower than those common in Toronto or Europe. Robert Evans, chair of the BIA committee that spearheaded the project, noted the WiFi network comes at very little cost to the BIA. The estimated $20,000 required to install transmitters in the downtown area was absorbed entirely by Bluewater Cable. The Huron Business Development Corporation also donated to the project, and the BIA will help cover the cost of advertising the system. No municipal funds were used.
Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge have all launched successful services via the now private Atria Networks Inc. Many are serving the downtown cores, thus bringing people into Downtown.
Guelph cold do something similar, either in Downtown or throughout the city with free or user pay wifi service, it will put Guelph on the leading edge of the telecommunications industry nationally and I feel globally as well. It may even show other business and people that Guelph is as a hub for innovation, investment and continued prosperity.
Atria Networks Inc., was, at one time, a joint venture of four local hydro utilities, with plans to roll out wireless Internet, or wi-fi, to Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph and 14 other communities in Waterloo Region and southern Wellington County by the end of 2007. I got an email from the company stating they are no longer owned by the utilities and now have no plans to extend service to Guelph. This is a chance to maybe do our own.
In my opinion, I think Downtown Guelph BIA should look into making Downtown a Free Public WiFi hotspot like in Goderich, On. and Dundas Square in Toronto . The idea strong because there are many people in this day and age, citizens and visitors to the city, who have laptop computers. They will want to be able to access not only local information about Guelph but their e-mail and news sources.
This is a perfect example of a downtown revitalization initiative. I know that it will draw people right to the core, and that is main reason why a WiFi Zone in other Downtowns. It is simply giving people, citizens and visitors, another great reason to come downtown Guelph, and to stay downtown longer.
The City of Guelph could also work on getting the Citywide WiFi service as well as providing WiFi in all Community Centres and maybe select parks and of course in the Downtown Core. It could easily be accessed on Buses as well.
There are concerns about security, something that has been addressed in other communities that are doing these. I feel that there should not be a worry, because there are answers to those concerns and it is safe and secure to use.
I also would say a challenge to the community to look at the Wireless Toronto concept. It is a working group of citizens who bring free wifi to public spaces especially parks, public squares and local business. It is a great idea that may have some legs if some Guelphites took the lead on such a project.
All information links on these examples can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/2s766y
Please forward to the appropriate staff as you see fit. SP