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Bell Canada Turns Payphones into Public Hotspots 262

Posted by michael
from the please-deposit-five-cents-for-the-next-1000-bytes dept.
turing0 writes "Bell Canada yesterday announced a trial of a new public wifi hotspot service - currently free - with locations in either airports, railway stations or bus terminals in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston. Bell has adopted an interesting twist on the hotspot in that they have built a steel armored case, in which to house the AP, a DSL modem and power supply, which is the exact dimensions of a payphone -- and mounted the whole thing in place of a single phone where there are banks of them such as you see in airports and bus terminals or subways. According to this article in the Globe and Mail Bell has still not determined the pricing model."
turing0 continues: "I attended the press conference at Toronto's Union Station, Track F, where I took a close look at the AP box which was mounted quite securely to a bank of payphones, and I was pretty impressed at how solid it appeared as various journalistic hacks took turns trying to pry the AP off the wall under the watch of Bell execs and a Bell phone tech. Bell is using Cisco AP1200's in the box as well as Alcatel ADSL modems with a 3Mb/Sec ADSL/ATM backhaul to the internet according to the Bell tech present. Various Bell types were wandering about with a pretty diverse collection of hardware such as Apple iBooks, Compaq PDA and IBM Thinkpads with 802.11 cards from Proxim, Cisco and Symbol as well as Dlink and SMC. Great use of a fully amortized asset (phone banks) and a very interesting spin on how to generate new revenue from a dying cost center - the payphone biz. Plus the added benefit of not having to negotiate new agreements with property management and landlords. Smooth move for Bell. Why didn't I think of that? Payphones, though declining in numbers, are still pretty much ubiquitous and are served with power as well as a good solid mounting location for the AP. In the final deployment Bell said that they would also be mounting AP's in the plenum and riser infrastructure of selected buildings should the full roll-out of the Accesszone product proceed. Is Bell Canada the first ILEC to recycle payphones?"
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Bell Canada Turns Payphones into Public Hotspots

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  • How much coverage? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dirvish (574948)
    Is there any info on the dispersement of pay phones? Will this blanket major cities?
  • Good Idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by blackmonday (607916) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:02PM (#4863065) Homepage
    Guess they gotta do something with those pay phones now that everyone has a cell phone.
    • Re:Good Idea (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Interestingly, in theory, the payphones at Toronto's Pearson airport have been free to the general public for some time now, because of "poor cellphone coverage". Apparently, there was a bit of a trade dispute between the airport authority and the cellphone providers. Both sides blame each other, but the deal seems to be that cellphone providers wanted to pay less to be able to put up cells on airport property (while the airport presumably jacked up their prices, to "tax" the cellphone providers.) As a result, at least back in August, the GTAA (Greater Toronto Airport Authority) was providing free local phonecalls from the Bell payphones.

      Amusingly, this supposedly "poor cellphone coverage" thing seems to be a myth. When I was flying out of Pearson in mid-August, my reception was just fine. I was able to carry on conversations and check my email without losing my signal.
  • WiFi Ahoy! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by explosionhead (574066) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:04PM (#4863082) Homepage
    The problem with all of these WiFi units is that as has been highlighted in previous articles, nobody is entirely sure how to make a profit out of them. As far as I'm concerned, things like Starbucks pay service are a bit too pricey for the casual user, who is generally relying on kind soles to open up APs for free

    Oh well, guess we can just hope the leave them free :)
    • Re:WiFi Ahoy! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pauljlucas (529435)
      ... nobody is entirely sure how to make a profit out of them.
      That's because there is no way to make a profit out of them. Most people, myself included, are just to cheap to pay per-minute/hour charges for nonessential communication. Most people simply don't need to get access to either the web or their e-mail now: it can wait until they get home/work.

      The only people who would even be likely to pay are business customers on travel, but, even then, it's not a big market.

  • by Lu Xun (615093) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:04PM (#4863084)
    Of course, anyone wishing to use these hotspots will have to persuade the clueless moron inside, trying to call home and wondering why his quarter won't fit anywhere, to come out.
  • Wow! (Score:4, Funny)

    by TerryAtWork (598364) <research@aceretail.com> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:05PM (#4863090)
    We've /.'d Bell!

  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:05PM (#4863096) Homepage
    It'd be kinda fun to offer my kids their own phone line, but install a pay phone to cover the cost.
    --
    • The Brady Bunch did this back in the 70's. According to precidence, your kids will be kidnapped by Vincent Price, locked up in the town jail of a ghost town and lost in the Grand Canyon.

      Never mind faking UFOs, saving the local park, battling with card building for greenstamps, launching their recording career and hanging with Davy Jones/Don Drysdale/Joe Nameth.

      I say go for it.

      :P

    • I heard a story about a year ago of a guy that was charging people 25 cents to use his telephone because the payphone across the street was broken. Bell sued him for reselling his telephone service without an agreement. I can't find any references to this, and I don't know which carrier, but I think it was Bell Canada. It wouldn't surprise me if all/most carriers have some kind of terms regarding resale of your services.

      Just something to keep in mind.
  • by dfn5 (524972) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:05PM (#4863098) Journal
    I wonder if I can get them to put a payphone with an AP in my living room.
  • with locations in either airports, railway stations or bus terminals in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston

    Well, you would think that they could narrow down the locations better than that.

    Toronto? Okay, let's spread out and find where the APs are located here...
    • by ergo98 (9391)
      Check out this [www.bell.ca] page listing the pilot locations on the right side. That's the official page for the service, as a sidenote.
    • From http://www.bce.ca/en/news/releases/bc/2002/12/10/6 9602.html.

      During the Bell AccessZone Wi-Fi pilot, users with 802.11b enabled devices will be able to gain free access to Bell's hotspot service in the
      following high traffic locations: Toronto's Union Station; Via Rail Panorama lounge in Montreal's Central Station and Toronto's Union Station; the departure area at Montreal's Dorval International Airport; Kingston's Confederation Park and Marina supported by the Kingston Economic Development Corporation; and Kingston's St. Lawrence College. AccessZone is also available in the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounges at Pearson International Airport (Terminal 2), Dorval International Airport, and the Calgary International
      Airport and will be installed in all other Maple Leaf Lounge locations. Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital and Kingston's Frontenac Public Library will also be deploying a Bell AccessZone location in the coming weeks. Other pilot locations will be introduced over the pilot period, which is expected to run until the spring of 2003.
  • wifi = Great (Score:5, Informative)

    by pr0c (604875) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:06PM (#4863102)
    Sounds like this is a good solution. Why can't electric companies take advantage of this with their electric poles? They can run all their network stuff side by side with their electricity lines and then they could offer phone service / internet service via their network down areas that have nothign but poor dialup. And since they already have the job half done (poles / wiring up) it could be quite cost effective. They could even run the networking down the electric lines themselves, i saw on /. that being done in europe somewhere. Then they could just have some sort of converter to wifi from that.
  • by Nevermore-Spoon (610798) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:06PM (#4863106)
    remember the old taping the sounds a quarter makes when insterted in the coin slot and playing it back into the phone to get free longdistance?...wonder how long till someone makes a knoppix disk that boots up and gives free WiFi access
    • remember the old taping the sounds a quarter makes when insterted in the coin slot and playing it back into the phone to get free longdistance?

      Has this actually worked in the past? I'd like to know as this is the first I've ever heard of this.
      • Short answer yes. Long answer, read the old Phrack manuals. (Too lazy to look up a link, I think 2600 used to mirror all of that stuff.)
    • by sharkey (16670)
      And getting the phone to ring back: 555 or 666 or 999 + the last four digits in the payphones number, hook-flash and listen for the "funny" dial-tone, hang up and walk off. The old ones would ring until answered. We found this to be great fun as kids.
  • by craenor (623901) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:07PM (#4863115) Homepage
    About using the words Canada and Hotspot in the same sentence that just seems wrong in so many ways...maybe it's just me, eh?
  • Terrorists. (Score:5, Funny)

    by FreeLinux (555387) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:09PM (#4863131)
    Well, there you have it. It's always been suspected that the Canadians were terrorists but, this proves it. Only last week was the US Justice Department talking about the criminality of open access points and now Canada does this.

    Karma: Excellent -- Well, we'll just see about that!
  • by mhesseltine (541806) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:10PM (#4863140) Homepage Journal

    Ok, I understand how, with a "Public Internet Terminal" like those cheesy ads on DirecTV, you get paid by people putting in money or swiping a credit card. How does this work with a wireless access point? Your card is going to pick up a signal. You may not want to key your credit card info over the airwaves to this unknown box. Do you walk up to the box, swipe your card, then key in the MAC address of your wireless card?

    Basically, what's phase 2 where

    1. Install public 802.11 access point
    2. ???
    3. Profit.
    • I don't understand all the ins and outs of networking perfectly but it seams this would be simple..

      1.) You enter the "hot spot"
      2.) The terminal picks up your network card and gets the mac address
      3.) If your network card is set on DHCP then no matter what URL you bring up it redirects you to a payment gateway
      4.) after you pay you get to go anywhere :)

      Sounds too easy to me, perhaps this isn't possible hehe..
    • by HeghmoH (13204) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:16PM (#4863209) Homepage Journal
      I don't know how they actually do it, but one easy scheme comes to mind. The network is kept open, but unidentified users are blocked. Any port 80 requests are redirected to their authentication server which asks for your username and password. It also has a signup page where you can give your credit card number and get a username instantly. Once you authenticate, outbound connection are allowed, and you're good to go. If you're afraid of putting in your credit card over a wireless connection, well, one hopes they'd use https, and if you don't trust that, then you should probably just keep all your money in your mattress anyway.
      • Hmm.

        1) Hijack access point
        2) Fake service payment screens via same intercept tech
        3) Profit, illegally
        • Don't even need to hijack the existing one, just set up your own access point. Some people are likely to connect to it thinking it's the Bell one. Then even though your credit card payment screens look remarkably like Bell's, you're really selling them a service (wireless access through your own DSL or cable modem) and are probably getting closer to being legal.
          • This will be a little bit hard, since your won't have a bell certificate, but if you keep everything HTTP, I wonder how many people would notice they never got the "you are enteringa secure site" box (I know I would, but I'm super paranoid about giving my CC on the net, and will check that the lock is closed and the address bar is https).
    • Step 2: Buy up land surrounding wireless access point and rent it to shops (and maybe the occasional business that doesn't want to build its own network infrastructure).

      But that requires too much investment and probably isn't a good use of capital, unless you wanted to get into the land business anyway.
    • by wowbagger (69688) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:29PM (#4863339) Homepage Journal
      Easy:

      1) Your laptop/PDA/whatever requests an IP address via DHCP.
      2) Access point hands out IP address, makes a note against that IP address that "has not paid yet"
      3) At this point, all that you can do is access HTTP and DNS.
      4) You point your browser at any web site - let's say http://slashdot.org for grins.
      5) DNS succeeds.
      6) Your computer does an HTTP GET.
      7) Access device sees you've not paid yet. Sends HTTP REDIRECT to https://fork.it.over.to.me
      8) Your laptop looks that up. Gets an IP address.
      9) Your laptop requests page.
      10) Page comes up - input credit card here.
      11) You do so. Access device marks you has "paid for 1 Hour". Ports open up.
      12) You again try /., and it goes through.
      • This is kind of fascinating. It brings into play all sorts of bad hacks where a malicious party could quite easily get your credit card and do nasty things. It may not be clear "which" access device is handing you the IP address--thus, instead of getting sent to http://fork.it.over.to.me, you could be sent to http://evil.doers.website.

        I wonder how they'd get around this problem. hehe... Trust is a hard thing to deal with in a wireless world.
    • No biggee actually. WiFi has identical security to the internet.

      First you get an account. You can do that using https; https will ensure that nobody nearby can see your CC details. Normal authentication will allow you to check the URL before signing on.

      Once you have an account they need to protect your/their bandwidth from theft. They can do that with VPN software; the VPN software will prevent you from connecting to the wrong box.

    • Ok, replying to my own post, but it seems the easiest way to cover what many people above have said (HTTPS, port 80). What keeps you from getting an IP, establishing a (SSH/other favorite non-web protocol) connection, and using this connection without paying?

    • What scares me is not so much HOW they are going to get the payment, but what they are going to charge!! I'm guessing at least $1/minute like many rippoffish cell-phone companies did when they first released...

      I mean, what's to stop them? They don't exactly have a lot of competition, especially in an airport. So if you're going to browse slashdot and check your email, you best write a fast script to hop on, download, and get off ASAP! (that alone might cost you a good $5 depending on how much email you have)

    • By putting quarters in the payphone - duh!!

      Seriously, as long as you registered the MAC address of the card (say, on the Bell Canada Web Site), then all you need is a pocket full of change to get access. How about 5 cents a minute, or a $1 per MB transfered?
    • Presumably, you would buy in advance on a prepaid card, with some type of account info.

      Gaining actual access to the network (or rather, outside the AP) would require some type of sign-in, that starts your billing.
  • by Nonac (132029) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:11PM (#4863148) Journal
    Plus the added benefit of not having to negotiate new agreements with property management and landlords

    This assumes that their existing agreements allow them to conduct any sort of transaction on the covered property. If it limits them to phone service, they will have to renegotiate. I can't imagine many property managers would sign an agreement that lets them put anything they want in that spot.

  • Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by loconet (415875) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:12PM (#4863170) Homepage
    Here is a working link [www.bce.ca] which talks about the service.

    Should be interesting competition for starbucks and the like who wanted to come to Toronto and setup hotspots.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In keeping with it's new policy of declaring free wireless access as a means of aiding terroists, the US government put Bell on it's list of terrorist organizations and warned all companies that they risk the same fate if they adopt free wireless access.
    The US military has sent a Delta force team into Bell HQ to take down the terrorist ring leader.
  • Picture (Score:5, Informative)

    by loconet (415875) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:15PM (#4863193) Homepage
    Here is some more info [www.bell.ca] on the hotspots, including a picture of it!
  • by waldo2020 (592242) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:16PM (#4863216)
    Especially in Canada. This the ISP that was first in Canada to impose 5 Gbyte bitcaps on so called "unlimted" usage, after redefining what they observed "unlimited" to mean in the AUP. Their 50$/CDN ADSL-lite per month doesn't include about 28$CDN for a typical land line required. Recently they have enjoyed a customer expansion due to promotions offered only to new customers, but have failed to expand their infrastructure to accomodate the higher loads. They offer a lousy 1Mbit "high speed" ADL-lite or 3Mbit "ultra"(good luck unless you are next door to a central office!) which is the only broadband option to cable based service.Worse, they are pushing their lame anti-virus and spam filter services for 5$cdn a pop. They are so generous - they even have a 35$ adsl "basic" - the 1Mbit product cranked down to only 128Kbit and 1Gbyte capped. Bell has never given anything free - don't expect then to start now- you'll be pulling out your wallet very soon;)

    • that was first in Canada to impose 5 Gbyte bitcaps on so called "unlimted" usage

      My ISP called saying I was using more bandwidth than "the average user". I replied "an average is made up of highs and lows, correct? I'm just keeping the average up." The lady asked me to cool the downloads but I've never heard back from them.
    • First of all, they cap the excess bandwidth charges at $30. Secondly, they are increasing the current quotas from 5GB to 10GB (IIRC).
    • I'd love to convert to something other than capitalism, but as long as that's the society we live in (I'm in the U.S., but Canada from what I understand is much like the U.S. economically), I can't imagine expecting altruism from a for-profit corporation.

      I'm not saying I like it, and I'm not trolling. If the parent post had been funny or sarcastic it would warrant no response other than a good laugh. But the poster seems to believe that any other typical for-profit corporation would provide this service for free and that Ma Bell is somehow an aberration. Sorry to burst your bubble, but when corporations are driven by profit for their shareholders, altruism becomes a breach of contract if it surpasses minor PR-value donations.

  • by Traicovn (226034) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:17PM (#4863220) Homepage
    "How you get people to pay for it is the big question," said Lawrence Surtees, an analyst at consultancy IDC Canada Ltd., adding that customers in the United States seem to think the service should be free.

    Simple. Allow people to pay by purchasing prepaid cards or using their credit card and charging in block periods of 10 minutes. What's funny is that free wifi could possibly hurt the bell companies already failing payphone services even more if services that allow 'free long distance calls over the internet' become popular again. Although there is the bottleneck issue with wireless connections which would prevent that, plus the poor quality of such services usually (although I often get poor quality from many high-use area pay phones as well)
    • I suspect they'll probably charge people in a similar way to how they currently charge for their Sympatico (http://www.sympatico.ca) dial up and high-speed ADSL service. A flat monthly fee, for 'unlimited' usage. Unless you go over their monthly Gbit upload/download limit, in which case they charge you an arm and a leg for going over.
  • Also from Bell (Score:5, Informative)

    by digidave (259925) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:22PM (#4863265)
    This took place at Toronto's Union Station, which I walk through every day. Bell also has Internet phones mounted in place of regular phones in a few places there.

    I've never used one of these Internet phones, but they're basically a regular phone with a larger colour LCD display, keyboard and laptop-like pointing device. It's a pretty cool idea, but I've never seen anybody use it and I wonder if very many people would pay for wireless Internet access in a train station where 99% of the people don't wait long for a train during rush hour.

    Also of note, Bell's ISP, Sympatico, has stand-alone pay per minute Internet access terminals in the station. Why would Bell compete with itself on so many levels?
    • Re:Also from Bell (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gorilla (36491) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:28PM (#4863330)
      Why would Bell compete with itself on so many levels?

      I think it's because it's basically a win-win situation. In places like Union station there are banks of pay phones, and maybe enough traffic to justify 10% or 20% of them. Replacing one phone with an Wifi stand, another with an internet phone and a third with a calling card machine, and they've still got enough pay phones to cover all the traffic. The wifi stand and the internet phone are competing with each other, but the sum is greater than either alone would be.

    • Yeah, I built some of the software for those internet phones. You can see pictures of them here [quortech.com]. They've got them in the Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary airports now, too. The usage started out slow, but it is slowly growing; the business case is actually pretty good if its a good location. For the curious, the phones run an embedded Linux kernel with a bunch of custom software.
  • This is great and all, but when they decide to start charging for the service I just can't imagine dropping quarters in every 2-3 minutes. When your time is almost up, will Windows Media Player pop up with Lily Tomlin advising you to "Please insert another 25 cents for the next three minutes of bandwidth, or you will be disconnect-ed."


    Relax, it's a joke.

  • Great for VoIP... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by leeet (543121)
    I guess it's a move the industry was waiting (ie: was scared of)... VoIP....

    That's a nice way to regain some lost marketshare. It'll probably be a matter of time until VoIP cell phones hit the market in Canada...
    If you can't beat them, join them... (and make them pay)
    • Aargh. One of the dumber ideas around is that we need 3G cellphone technology so we can do voice over IP from cellphones. Why? You need more spectrum space and new infrastructure to get enough bandwidth to the phone to do voice over IP. Where's the savings? Long distance charges for cell phones already approach zero within the US. Sprint PCS has been nationwide flat rate for years, and others are going that way. There's so much installed long-haul fibre in the US that it's just not a problem.

      Internationally, charges are more of an issue, but the solution is gateways to voice over IP you can dial from a cellphone, not running voice over IP all the way to the handset.

  • pricing model (Score:4, Insightful)

    by matman (71405) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:26PM (#4863314)
    Here's a pricing model - register with Bell Canada through normal means (mail, phone, internet, etc) and obtain a digital certificate that authenticates you, to them. Before being allowed out through the DSL modem, some gateway would check to ensure that the digital certificate was signed by bell; it would record how much you use the system and report to Bell's central system. They would then bill you at the end of the month. Bell would have to make it easy to do the certificate authentication; I'm thinking IPSec or a browser certificate that would be necessary to get through a proxy. There are many possible solutions on the technical side.
    • We need a global not-for-profit organization that can be used as a clearing house for WiFi subscriptions.

      This is really something where Passport type "global" authentication could come in handy. It doesn't have to be passport, but a similiar system would work well. You use whatever WAP points you want, and the Bell Canada's of the world bill your globally unique username/id to the not-for-profit org which acts sorta like a paypal.

      I know Boingo is somewhat like this, but it's a level below. We need to abstract one level up.

      -malakai
  • by Genady (27988) <gary.rogers@nOSpAM.mac.com> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:28PM (#4863325)
    You see, Open 802.11 networks are a threat to our national security.
  • Bell has still not determined the pricing model

    Uhm... so they don't know how to make money from this yet? Okay, this isn't gonna last.
  • Karma Whoring (Score:2, Informative)

    Original link is dead. Use this one instead [www.bell.ca]

  • Spam? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Andrewkov (140579) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:46PM (#4863459)
    Be prerpared to have your mailbox blasted with spam from the Bell sympatico.ca [sympatico.ca] domain!
    • by robbo (4388)
      That's funny. I'm a sympatico customer, but I never *ever* use my sympatico email address. I've never posted it, sold it, used it as a return address, nothing. Yet somehow, I receive about 30 spams a month to that address. I wonder if selling my address is somewhere in my contract or if they're just making a quick buck and assuming that their customers won't notice.
      • You know those Sympatico Compass newsletters that they send out every month or two? They hired spammers to send send it for them.

        Received: from delano.blitzdata.com (HELO mailer.blitzdata.com) (172.16.48.10) by mail1.blitzdata.com with SMTP; 2 Dec 2002 18:55:13 -0000

        Blitzdata is pretty pink, and they're using spamware to send it. (The base64 encoding is also a tip-off.) Nice of Sympatico to share email addresses with spammers who probably sold the names out the back door on their next "Millions" CDROM.

  • Bell Canada Megacorp (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @01:48PM (#4863477) Homepage Journal
    First off folks outside Canadia don't realize how HUGE Bell Canada is.
    • They own my long-distance service.
    • The own my local service.
    • They own my cellphone service.
    • They own my ISP.
    • They own my satellite TV service.
    • They own 1/2 the channels on the TV (Discovery, TLC, etc.)
    • They own umpteen other things I'm likely not aware of and use every day.
    Basically, if Bell Canada (or their holding company) wants to do something price isn't a problem, gov't regulations aren't an issue, and they're already so in bed with municipalities they can pretty much plug in anything they want where they want for as long as they want. In short if they wanna go WiFi they've got everything in place to make it happen, happen big, and nobody can compete.

    Profit? They don't need to worry about that for a long time. They could support this for a decade while the market matures and its cost would still be in with the round-off errors of their ledgers. In the meantime they'll OWN the whole deal across Canada and be damn attractive to US sites looking for a stable partner. Forget .bombs, deal with a megacorp with lots of technology already in place. Pretty attractive to a hotel, airport, or municipality.

    Yeah, I think this really could bring a big change to North America. The Baby Bells in the US are fractured and hamstrung. But with the market opened up to foreign ownership and activity Bell Canada may well have found their entrée into the US market. Widespread 802.11, first domestically then in the US, that could well be their opportunity. Forget cellular or land-line, offer a last-mile wireless.

    • Bell is definitely pervasive in Canada, but (for the Americans who don't know, but still care) thankfully you don't HAVE to go with them on a number of aspects.

      You can go with alternative long-distance companies; they may or may not have to pay Bell for the "privilege," but if you're not a Bell supporter then you can at least avoid paying the whole enchilada.

      Cellphone service can be provided by Rogers [rogers.com] or Telus [telus.com] if you're so inclined. Personally, if I needed a cellphone, I think I'd go with Telus... any company that markets their products with squirrel monkeys can't be all that bad. :)

      With satellite, you do have at least one other choice, StarChoice [starchoice.com]. You can also always go with cable, if you're willing to deal with the cable company (Rogers for me, often Shaw elsewhere or Videotron in Quebec).

      ISPs, now there's a sore spot. In terms of DSL, the only alternatives are generally small, local services who still have to pay a bit to use Bell's lines. It's either that or cable (again). On the other hand, I know that at least one DSL provider in Ottawa supposedly goes without a transfer cap.

      So you do have alternatives in most areas, but more often than not Bell is there in some capacity, or else you go with the dominating cable company in your area. At least Bell is better than AOL Time Warner down in the states, who practically dominates what Americans see and hear...

    • Basically, if Bell Canada (or their holding company) wants to do something price isn't a problem, gov't regulations aren't an issue, and they're already so in bed with municipalities they can pretty much plug in anything they want where they want for as long as they want. In short if they wanna go WiFi they've got everything in place to make it happen, happen big, and nobody can compete.

      That's bull. Plain and simple. Bell Canada is MASSIVE, and they're a GREAT BIG BLOODY MONOPOLY. Yay! They're regulated up the wing-wang. I love Bell Canada. They have to sell DSL at *extremely* fixed prices (low to consumers, and way lower to resellers), so I can get 1.2Mbit/128kbit DSL for less than $30CAD a month. (That's less than $20USD, for those non-Canadian folk reading this.)

      What does Bell Canada get for this? A 20-year monopoly on providing DSL service. Of course, "monopoly" is something of a misnomer, since they're required to sell at absurdly low rates to wholesalers/resellers. So Bell may be providing the wires, but they're getting raped on cost. But they have 20 years of these prices to cover the cost of the rollout.

      Rollout, I say? Yes, rollout. Ontario has an amazing ATM network, thanks to Bell Canada, and their government-granted 20-year monopoly. Not only can I get 1.2Mbit/128kbit DSL for dirt-fucking-cheap, but I can get 3.0Mbit/640kbit DSL (That's 400kB/s downloading and 80kB/s uploading) for $60CAD or less. Top that without somebody who has a huge amonut of time to cover network rollout costs!

      Is Bell Canada a monopoly? Yes! Did the government give them this status? Yes! Are we thankful? YES!

  • by m0i (192134)
    Woa, bell.ca is slashdotted. Time for a new meaning to 'telco-grade'!
    And I wonder how they can currently protect themselves from abuse; high-speed anonymous access=spammers/hackers haven!
  • Assume that the security issues can be resolved - perhaps no one uses it long enough to just crack WEP, for example. Now also assume that payphones set them up next to, say, coffee shops that offer free wireless: perhaps whoever gives out DHCP first wins. Now the coffee shop is getting poached by the payphone and customers don't like this coffee shop, because their free access doesn't work.

    Now add into the mix that coffee shop is Starbucks, and can easily afford to sue the people running the phones. WiFi is going to get heavily regulated, and soon.

    I predict that within the next 18 months they do a story on terrorists or bad, bad hackers using anonymous access points to do bad things and a real regulatory crush gets on, the real purpose of which will be to ensure that only Big Companies can compete to provide public WiFi.

  • by jefdiesel (633290) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:18PM (#4863776)
    I'm in Montreal, right downtown, and I hoped there would more 'public' areas available, but the majority seem to be 'semi-public'
    There's a list, with more promised in the near future, but for now its..

    Toronto, Ontario: Union Station Panorama Lounge, Union Station

    Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Pearson International Airport, Terminal 2

    Kingston, Ontario: Confederation Park and Marina St. Lawrence College

    Montreal, Quebec: Panorama Lounge, Central Station

    Dorval Airport, Departures Area Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Dorval Airport

    Calgary, Alberta: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Calgary International Airport.

    So we have airports and train stations, not the kind of place to sit for hours just to serve up some mp3's, but since the 'Gare Central' is 5 minutes away on the Metro, I'm gonna head down this weekend and see what kinda speeds I can get
    • I've spent a lot of time in the Toronto and Montreal train stations and airports and as far as I can tell, those are all lounges for first class or preferred customers. I wonder what the range is.. if it's line of sight or shorter than a few dozen metres, then these are hardly 'public' access points.
    • Yea they are all "VIP" lounges, wich already have free internet acess and free computers to use. sooo its not THAT big of a deal.

      however i used to comute between TO and Ottawa on a weekley basis, and found my self killing a few mins ie:30-45 in the lounge all the time.

      i cant see a better addition to the free drinks, free computers, free mag's, and NOW FREE WI-FI.

      its not the greatest test area, but u can be sure its not going to get haxored by some leet script kiddy.
  • What I want to know is how will the acess be billed and authenticated? Are they going to use special WEP keys? or some software that you have to install? What platforms will they support.
  • Instead of scribbled notes above the payphone of "For a good time call...", it'll be "For a good time browse to..."
  • by skinfitz (564041) on Wednesday December 11, 2002 @02:47PM (#4864054) Journal
    Turning payphones into WiFi hotspots has been done for some time now in London; it's just not advertised. If you know how, you can use the bandwidth.

    Not sure they quite meant it to be used this way...
  • I wonder how they plan to prevent people from abusing this? Some spammer, who's had his nth ISP toss him off, could just take his laptop and head for the subway. Blocking only port 25 would work because spammers also use open proxy servers on other ports. And if you start blocking too many other ports, what's the use of this? (Hmm, will they try to block KaZaa?)
  • around here in a long time. Stores had them removed because the were being used for drug deals, and here in California everyone over the age of 8 has a cell phone :)
  • haiku...

    superman rushes
    to save toronto, instead
    crashes broadband trunk

    /haiku

  • Careful, Tom Ridge doesn't like open access much. If 802.11 is not not encrypted, you must be a terrorist -- see that article the other day.
  • I mentioned this to BT (UK) a while ago...They have been putting these new payphones that have Broadband, text messaging, Phone, email, web all in a phone box. The logical extension to this would be to add a WiFi areial. This would be a minimal add-on in cost and provide great service for certain types of WiFi users.

    They basically ignored the idea and thought it wouldn't work. I hope this proves them wrong. Imagine being able to pull up next to any payphone and get internet access. In my opinion this is one of the best ways to spread the range of hotspots at a cheap price. They don't even have to sign up the HotSpot locations as they own the spot already. /b

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