Toronto to become Canada's largest hotzone

Toronto Hydro Telecom announced plans to blanket downtown Toronto with wireless WiFi coverage, allowing laptops to log on to the Internet anywhere within the zone, from park benches to cars and cafeterias. The project will establish Canada's largest WiFi zone. Toronto Hydro Telecom, a subsidiary of Toronto Hydro, said it would install radio APs on streetlight poles throughout a 3.75-sq.-mi. area in the downtown core. The hotspot will be set up in stages, with the first phase bringing WiFi to the financial district. The entire project should be complete by the end of the year. For the first six months, Toronto Hydro will offer customers free access to the zone. After that, it will begin to charge.

"WiFi technology is the new benchmark for urban living," stated Toronto Hydro president David Dobbin. "It's standard equipment in many electronic devices, from laptops to portable entertainment units." As is the case in the U.S., private telephone companies are outraged by the plans, questioning why a public utility needs to compete with the private sector in a well-served market. Mike Lee, chief strategy officer with Rogers Communications, one of the country's largest telecommunications companies, said he did not understand why the cash-strapped city of Toronto wanted to enter the Internet access business. "It will not be an easy business," he told the National Post. "In this day and age, the focus should be on core operations more than anything. I was surprised to see they are looking to get into this business."

For more on Toronto's plans:
- see this AP report

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