First Thoughts On Toronto’s WiFi Network

One Degree:Patrick, how do you think Toronto Hydro has done with the launch of the first phase of the Toronto WiFi blanket, and “have your initial thoughts”?

Patrick Dinnen: I would give Toronto Hydro Telecom a qualified thumbs up for their launch. It remains to be seen, but I suspect that THT may find that they need to work on managing customer expectations.

The “THT website” uses phrases like ‘blanket of WiFi coverage in the downtown Toronto core’ and ‘ubiquitous WiFi coverage zone’, but the experience on the ground may be somewhat different.

Technically what THT are trying to do is very ambitious and really stretches the technology a long way, so the fact that there are some dead spots in the coverage is no surprise, but you need to make sure your customers understand the limitations. This becomes particularly true once the initial six-month free trial period is over. I may not mind moving to another table in the cafe to get a signal while I’m not paying for the service but at $29/month my perception changes.

I don’t think my thoughts on what needs to happen to make this project a complete success have changed since launch.

To recap, THT should be:

  • consulting with the public
  • working to address the needs of underserved communities and small businesses
  • considering providing free Internet access in public spaces on an ongoing basis.

There are some signs that thought is being given to these issues by various people. For example, “Wireless Toronto”: and THT have had some initial conversations about the possibilities for community-related and there was “a piece in the Star” last week, which asked whether the network would provide more value to Toronto if it remained a free service.

So, I’m still hopeful about the potential of the THT network but don’t think it’s being met quite yet.


Originally published at on September 15, 2006.