This week, a free ad-supported WiFi service was launched at two Toronto stations – Bloor and Yonge and Saint George stations. Riders will have to watch a 15 second advertisement in order to access the free WiFi network as part of the TTC’s agreement with BAI Canada Inc., who will build the WiFi network over the next 20 years. Next steps toward a truly mobile Toronto will involve enabling cellular phone service underground, but the TTC is still in talks with major wireless service providers.
While Torontonians are focusing on making their commutes more mobile, there is a New York City initiative to create a free WiFi network that spans the entire city. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Tuesday the launch of a free public 24/7 WiFi network in Harlem, making it the largest of its kind in the United States. The project will developed in partnership between community development organization, Harlem Children’s Zone, and Sky Packets, a wireless network provider. It’s part of Mayor Bloomberg’s wider WiFi plan, which included announcing a WiFi network in 5 burroughs within the city in September of this year.
Initiatives like these are necessary to keep up with the mobile world, which has given rise to the “anytime-anywhere-worker.” 29 per cent of today’s workforce can be characterized as such, and Forrester predicts 905 million tablets will be in use by 2017. We recently wrote a blog which analyzed the Digital Divide in Canada, and a report released earlier this year by researchers at Western University says that Canada isn’t doing enough to provide access to internet for all Canadians regardless of their socioeconomic background. A Statscan report released in early November says that at times, only 28 per cent of Canadians living in the smallest income bracket have internet access at home. This recent free WiFi initiative is one step to changing that, and we are excited to see Toronto getting on board with the mobile access revolution.
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