The Wireless City

wireless, wifi, Kingston, OntarioIn late July, New York Transit announced that they were finally moving forward on a plan that would see wireless Internet be made available on the subway.  It’s not necessarily revolutionary, as ViaRail has been offering shoddy wireless Internet to riders for a few years now.  That said, the move in the Big Apple represents a growing trend as more and more cities are partnering up with private corporations to create wireless access zones, thereby enabling Internet access regardless of location.  While many Kingstonian’s subscribe to wireless phone plans that enable Internet connectivity, we all know that these come with costly contracts, bandwidth limitations, let alone the pricey hardware.  Accordingly, this week’s poll question asks:

[poll id=”19″]

A few years ago Ockham Communications set up a free wireless network in the Queen’s student village ghetto, but I’m not certain if the Mi WiFi was ever that popular, or if it’s still available today.  Otherwise WiFi in Kingston is limited to coffee shops and select restaurants that don’t necessarily want non-paying customers loitering around all day just for a free wireless connection. Cities of comparable size to Kingston such as Moncton have jumped on the bandwidth waggon and  set up their own municipal wireless network, that was implemented under budget and in a scalable manner.  Perhaps Kingston could easily do the same downtown, and expand the network to hockey arenas, public parks, and even on board Kingston Transit buses.  Internet access is becoming as essential as basic utilities, and providing it to both residents and visitors demonstrates that Kingston gets it, and is open for business.

Special thanks to günes in wonderland for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

7 thoughts on “The Wireless City

  • The importance of freely accessible information really became apparent to me last night and this morning while following the twitter feeds of people participating in the prison farms blockade. It's not only exciting but important for democracy that information flows freely. Freely available internet (particularly of the wireless variety) adds to this flow by allowing people to create content, debate, and view it.

  • doesn't automatically have to be the taxpayer's burden – there are alternatives:
    another issue though is that kingston is such a tech laggard, and it aint speeding up any time soon, so there may not be the demand for wireless here

  • Oh please don't let my tax dollars be spent on anything that might actually be useful… seriously, I pay my taxes precisely in the hope that the government will do things that empower people with their spending. This is one of those things.

  • Total coverage is probably not so likely as various hot spots around the city. I like the idea of having wifi on buses, as it could help increase ridership. Would be pretty cool to have it along the waterfront too. Nothing quite like sitting by the lake and getting some online work done. But it's all a dream really, this city is way too behind the times when it comes to this sort of idea.

  • This already exists in the form of 3G networks on smartphones and connection cards that plug in to your laptop which cover the entire city. Granted the service is still pretty expensive but prices will come down. There is no point of using wifi for this purpose, because it is such a short-range technology that it requires dozens of base stations to cover a small area like downtown Kingston which can be covered with one cell phone tower.

    • Sure, but keep in mind not everyone has a smart phone, and many people don't want to buy wireless cards through Bell, Rogers etc… just to have a bit of mobility/flexibility when it comes to using their laptop. Visitors from other countries are also a consideration as they haven't always able to link into Canada's cell phone network. The WiFi technology out there is getting better in terms of both coverage and price, and could work for all visitors.

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