WiFi Visions

After several years of little movement, Industry Minister David Emerson focused on the broadband agenda during the fall, obtaining new funding for high-speed connectivity nationwide.  While Emerson deserves kudos for focusing on this issue, developments elsewhere suggest that other jurisdictions are even more ambitious.  Municipal wifi continues to attract attention – Tempe, Arizona will become the first U.S city to offer citywide, free wifi access.  By early next year, the service will be available throughout the city, with all residents able to use the Internet for free for two hours each day.

Plans in Macedonia are even more impressive as it has launched an initiative to provide country-wide wifi access.  The system will not be free, but will cover an amazing one thousand square miles.

As ISPs move away from principles of network neutrality toward differential pricing based on applications and content (check out the comments of a Bell South executive and rumours of Rogers blocking BitTorrent and podcasts), the role of government becomes ever more important.  Politicians searching for a vision to capture the imagination of Canadians during this election campaign should reject the prioritization of greater network surveillance embodied in MITA and instead set out a vision of greater network access.


  1. I’m waiting for this idea to catch fire. It seems like the quintessentially Canadian thing; up there with starting the CBC. But I guess the policy-makers though just aren’t wired enough to have caught the bug yet.

  2. This is currently the biggest threat to the Internet, the concept of the common carrier disappearing. Where does it stop? When your chosen ISP (And in most places in Canada, your choice is rather limited) can decide what companies or people you do business with. Government needs to enforce stricter rules to protect Canadians right to chose.

    Sorry, you can not access – They are not the approved bank of Rogers Inc. Re-Directing you to

    Sorry, you can not access…… where does it end?

  3. nexxtech says:

    Freedom to compete vs Fairness
    I think it’s important to distinguish between user-to-network services provided by an ISP, and the network-to-network services provided by the telcos over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

    ISP’s should be able to differentiate their services, just like you can choose to drive a bus or a car.

    Telco’s must provide equal service to all, just like access to interstate highways and phone service is equal for all.

  4. nexxtech says:

    WIFI-Heaven or Hell on Earth?
    Why should there be a data pathway into my home that I cannot block or shut off? (City-wide WIFI).

    I can already think of several ways to abuse this, and I am no genius.

    Why are we rushing headlong into this without debate?

    Broadband over power lines is a more secure and democratic solution.
    (a single point of entry into the home. Filterable if desired.)