Because free internet keeps us going.
Yesterday, a Toronto Redditor with a keen eye snapped a shot of a router being installed at Donlands Station on the city’s east end. The installation is part of the TTC’s efforts to connect riders while underground, a project that launched last April.
Still, Toronto remains a city vastly unconnected, and public Wi-Fi here is scarce by comparison to other major cities worldwide.
How can the city catch up? Here are a few spots where Toronto most needs Wi-Fi connectivity.
Toronto’s parks are hotspots for public gatherings—whether it’s to see the cherry blossoms at High Park, or to enjoy a picnic at Trinity-Bellwoods—but you’ll be hard pressed to find a public Wi-Fi hotspot at any of them across the city.
It’s a sad reality that few other major cities face. In San Francisco, for instance, Google helped foot the bill to bring public Wi-Fi to rec centres, parks, and playgrounds throughout the city. And free Wi-Fi in several parks across New York City has long been commonplace.
But park-goers in Toronto may not be internet-free for long. In 2015, Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) rallied to have Wi-Fi brought to municipal parks. The City’s economic development division is now working on a report on how to make that happen, expected later this year. There’s no word on how long such a project would take to implement.
Meanwhile, in 2014, Parks Canada requested that it offer Wi-Fi in up to 150 parks across the country within a three-year window. The organization took cues from Manitoba, where hotspots have been available since 2013.
The TTC made strides toward better connectivity with the launch of its free Wi-Fi pilot project in some of the most-used stations. But there are still shortcomings—mainly that riders lose their connections when they travel from station to station.
Wi-Fi within subway cars could solve this. That’s the plan in New York City, where a $27-billion plan is in place to bring in a fleet of 1,025 new subway cars that are digitized and include built-in Wi-Fi.
That plan, of course, is no easy task.
If Toronto wants to catch up, the TTC will have to step up its game and finishing implementing Wi-Fi at the remainder of its 69 stations. (As it stands, only 33 currently have Wi-Fi.)
On the streets
Step into a coffee shop or head inside a mall, and you’re bound to find a hotspot. But on the streets, you’re stuck using your (really expensive) data plan.
One solution? In New York, defunct phone booths have been transformed into Wi-Fi hotspots. Last month, 50 units were installed; the goal is to eventually install 7,500. Each booth also displays advertising. With a number of decrepit booths in Toronto, perhaps a similar initiative could work wonders north of the border.