Free WiFi throughout the city

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The question isn’t why - the question is, why not? An effective free WiFi Internet access system throughout the city would help businesses, residents and visitors alike.

In 2006, mayor Sam Katz promised to create a downtown-wide wireless network, an effort that is ongoing, he told the Winnipeg Free Press this past October.

Shaw Communications currently offers free WiFi to its customers at City of Winnipeg facilities like libraries, pools, arenas, community centres and more, while MTS has offered wireless Internet to its customers since 2007 at the Pan Am Pool, the North Centennial Recreation Centre all 20 city libraries.

But in Seoul, South Korea, the local government has announced a project to bring free WiFi to every outdoor space and street corner citywide.

All buses, taxis and subway trains will be covered, too. reported that while the plan is still going through growing pains, it’s ultimately a good one.

“Because when it works, it works,” the business and technology website wrote. “It works for all of the reasons everyone wanted to start the thing in the first place: because it’s arguably only at the scale of a metropolitan public works project that you really can deliver the smooth, broad, deep data coverage that we all say and believe we want - not just for those who can put down a mint, not just in place of convenience X, Y, and Z, but everywhere, and for everyone, for the public good.”

Until a time when Winnipeg is connected the way Seoul is, our city could at least go the way of Denver, which offers free Internet access throughout its downtown area; Houston, which has 150 hotspots in 10 neighbourhoods and business districts; and Seattle, which has more than 100 free WiFi hotspots, including downtown parks.

Part of the series: The Urban Issue 2013

Published in Volume 67, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 28, 2013)

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