Commenting on Toronto WiFi Plans

I appeared on CBC’s As It Happens (real audio) this evening to discuss Toronto Hydro’s wifi plans.  Evan Solomon, who conducted the interview, seemed a bit bothered by the idea that an electric utility is getting into the Internet services market.  I defended the utility, arguing that the more competition benefits everyone.  As Mark Evans points out, it seems that Toronto Hydro agrees.


  1. Russell McOrmond says:

    Good and bad ways to do this..
    I am of the opinion that there are good and bad ways to roll this out. If it is a utility, we can go back to the discussions of the “information highway” from more than a decade ago. The basic “roads” within a city would be provided by the municipality: both wireless and by fiber, with the municipal electricity utilities already owning and managing large high-speed fiber networks as well.

    The problem comes when the municipality also tries to own the stores and homes, which is why I believe that we need to ensure that these municipal wireless systems only provide connectivity and not other Internet services such as email or web-hosting.

    Ideal would be if this were rolled out where it could be free to communicate within the city (IE: paid for with our taxes, much like our city streets), allowing competition for access outside of the city and for other Internet services.
    It will be interesting to see where this goes. It would be great if we could move to a future where I could independently subscribe to all other telecommunications services (voice services, specific digital TV channels, Internet transit outside of the city) over the “big pipe” provided to me as a utility from the municipality. There are so many future possibilities that are being stifled by the current monopoly telecommunications and cable companies.

  2. Miss Moose says:

    t-dot to the hotspot
    I wrote about this on Monday

    and think that this is a great initiative. It bothers me when Rogers and the likes argues that “customer service” and “billing” will be too much for Hydro – especially since those areas seem to be too much for Rogers – has anyone ever waited less then 20 minutes on hold when complaining about a bill mistake?
    I think this is a great thing for Toronto – and as Russell points out it is a head towards the “information highway” ideology and will help narrow the digital divide as the wifi hotspot expands more.
    I think that there will also cause the Telecoms to improve the quality of their “products” by offering increased bandwidth options for gamers and those who like to stream video and other content rich applications.
    Maybe I am forgetting to look at all the economic wrinkles – but the idea in itself sounds promising. Plus I am moving back to Toronto from Vic in April and am super pumped

    Miss Moose

  3. Curtis V Palmer says:

    Good Interview
    Thought you handled his 60-minutes style questions quite well. You’ve actually inspired me to consider bringing our local electric utility in as a partner in our muni-wifi evaluation. When I first heard about Toronto’s model I was skeptical about why Hydro would be involved, but now it makes sense. Thanks for making it clear.

  4. Tyler Hamilton says:

    Toronto Hydro is already in the Internet market serving business customers. This isn’t a huge stretch.