Globe and Mail: Free my WiFi

Matt Hartley wrote an impressively balanced article on free wifi in today’s Globe and Mail: Free My Wifi.  (I particularly appreciate the teaser on the front page of the Globe: “Is WiFi the future or the past?”)  The first line refers to the WT spot at Harbourfront Centre, the article quotes WT friend Catherine Middleton, and Hartley graciously gives me the last word: “An effort to make Internet access more easily and cheaply available to low-income residents of the city seems like a great initiative.  But the devil is always in the details.”

As the article mentions, Councillor Minnen-Wong is still working out the details of his plan to provide free wifi in the city’s public housing.  We haven’t spoken with him yet, but hope to soon.  His project is ambitious, and — we suspect — would be prohibitively expensive if implemented following a traditional approach to IT management.  A community approach — besides being cheaper — could have a wide range of unexpected benefits, like creating opportunities for inter-generational and -cultural collaboration.

Wireless Toronto volunteer meeting: April 21

The next Wireless Toronto volunteer meeting will be on Tuesday, April 21st, 6-8pm, at the Centre for Social Innovation, 4th floor.  (215 Spadina Ave., between Queen and Dundas)

We haven’t met in a while, so it’s a great time to come out if you’ve never been to one of our meetings.  We’ll catch everyone up on what we’ve been up to, and talk about some opportunities this spring and summer.  Lots of ways to get involved, for designers, techies, writers, community folks, etc.  Hope to see you there…!

Community wifi deployment model throwdown

The folks at Village Telco have an analysis of the research paper written by Wireless Toronto friends Catherine Middleton & Amelia Bryne Potter, Is it Good to Share? A Case Study of FON and Meraki Approaches to Broadband Provision.

The writer’s criticism of Middleton’s conclusion about the (perhaps inherent?) instability of ad-hoc wireless networks seems misplaced given how painfully flaky these networks appear to be.  Especially given the reference just one paragraph earlier to an incident of several Meraki networks experiencing significant outages over the holidays when many people unplugged the units in order to plug in Christmas lights.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see academic research being covered by and feeding back into the community of folks who are building the networks… thanks, Village Telco!

Ile Sans Fil & Ville de Montreal

The City of Montreal will make an announcement in January about their investment in wifi.  Either they’ll come through on a proposal they’ve been working on for over a year with Ile Sans Fil (the very well-established local community wireless group), or they’ll try to go forward on their own, perhaps partnering with a commercial WISP.  The former option is more plausible one according to the writer of this piece (and we agree heartily):

Le réseau WiFi prendra e l’ampleur in 2009 – Canoe / Argent

Ile Sans Fil