Chicago municipal leaders have scrapped plans to blanket the city with an ambitious Wi-Fi network, citing high costs and low residential uptake as the main reasons. Negotiations with private-sector partners, including EarthLink, have stalled because any city-wide Wi-Fi would require massive public financing.
The common good is back in fashion. Across North America, from San Francisco to Fredericton, more than 200 crusading cities are building municipal Wi-Fi networks. Boosting business, providing Web access for poorer citizens, creating communal communications infrastructures: different cities have different missions driving their Wi-Fi projects.
In a little more than a month from now, users of the country's largest Wi-Fi network - Toronto's recently launched One Zone - will begin paying up to $29 a month for the privilege of cruising the information highway wirelessly.
Toronto went wireless Wednesday, joining the ranks of unwired municipalities like Ottawa, Fredericton and Whistler. Phase one of Toronto's Wi-Fi network -- dubbed One Zone -- is up and running and boasts the largest Wi-Fi network in Canada.
Communications experts have been watching the developments at Toronto Hydro Telecom Inc. with avid anticipation ever since David Dobbin was named president in August. So it came as no surprise when the Toronto Hydro Corp. subsidiary recently announced plans to throw a blanket Wi-Fi hot zone over the city.