Wi-Fi to go

Published: September 26th, 2012
I only recently succumbed to the lure of the full-on smart phone. I found data plans outrageously expensive (they’re much more palatable now) and, frankly, living in dowtown Toronto without much urge to go too far afield, I found it easy enough to hop from free Wi-Fi hotspot to free Wi-Fi hotspot throughout the downtown core.
Get out of urban downtown areas, though, and your odds of keeping connected through free Wi-Fi plunge dramatically. Jon Jacobi’s guide to drive-by Wi-Fi in TechHive outlines some good options for those tooling across the U.S. (the Wi-Fi finder apps mentioned at the bottom are also relevant to Canadian users), but we need a similar guide for Canada’s vast landscape.
For those travelling the Windsor-to-Kingston corridor, there are three reliable and ubiquitous Wi-Fi sources. Virtually every hamlet off the highway advertises a Tim Hortons, and the doughnut-and-coffee chain has increasing numbers of Wi-Fi equipped outlets. There are almost as many Mcdonald’s restaurants as there are Timmies, and 1,000 franchises of the burger chain are Wi-Fi-equipped.
Then there are the highway-side On Route centres. There are 14 in Ontario dotting the sides of expressways, offering gas, food, drink and, you guessed it, free Wi-Fi access  to the road-weary. You’ll come upon one of these pretty reliably every 70 to 100 kilometres along the 401.
What are your most reliable free Wi-Fi outlets? Post them in the comments area below, and perhaps we’ll pull the posts together for a rough guide in a future issue of ComputerWorld Canada to avoiding data roaming charges.