No less than 350 new Wi-Fi hotspots will be installed in various public venues throughout the City of Winnipeg in a two-year joint project by the municipality and telecommunications company, Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS). Wi-Fi access though is only free for MTS subscribers. Non-customers will have to pay a minimal fee using a credit card in order to use the hotspots.
The project aims to provide residents with more options for wirelessly connecting to Internet services at local arenas, libraries, recreation centres and other public areas and will add to the more than 400 Wi-Fi hotspots MTS has throughout Manitoba. Over the next two years, MTS will invest nearly $2 million in building the Wi-Fi hotspots, according to a statement from the company yesterday.
The Wi-Fi service will be available for free to MTS high-speed Internet and wireless service customers by simply entering their login ID and password on a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device. MTS will also automatically transfers MTS wireless devices to Wi-Fi when the device is within a Wi-Fi zone.
“It has been a commitment of mine to provide the services that Winnipeggers need to stay connected when visiting our civic facilities, and this agreement does just that,” said Mayor Sam Katz when the project was publicly announced yesterday at the Jonathan Toews Community Centre, one of the first municipal facilities to have Wi-Fi connectivity.
The City of Winnipeg is serving as a “conduit” for the Wi-Fi service, according to Michelle Baily of the city’s corporate communications department. She said Winnipeg is providing MTS with access to the public facilities where the hotspots will be located. The city has a similar arrangement with telecommunications firm Shaw Communications.
Kelvin Shepherd, MTS president, said the project will provide Winnipeggers with “the most comprehensive overall Internet experience in the province” which will allow people to connect to the Internet at home as well as when they are visiting “their local arena or a coffee shop.”
The MTS wireless and broadband network provides coverage for 97 per cent of Manitobans and delivers high-speed broadband Internet connectivity to more than 85 per cent, according to the company.
This year, MTS also expanded its 4G LTE wireless network to Victoria Beach, Grand Beach, Portage La Prairie, Selkirk and Steinbach. The company also launched its fibre optic network in Beausejour, offering residents download speeds of up to 250 Mbps. MTS also plans to bring DSL-based Internet services to 20 new communities this year.