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Toronto Hydro Launches Free Wi-Fi Network 155

Posted by kdawson
from the everything's-bigger-in-canada dept.
k. writes to let us know about the launch Wednesday of Toronto Hydro's city-wide Wi-Fi network, at 6 square kilometers said to be the largest in North America by the time rollout is complete in December. The service will be free for 6 months and then will cost $29 (Canadian) per month, $10 for a day, or $5 for an hour. Toronto Hydro gets around fears of the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse by requiring use of one's cell-phone number as the user ID.
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Toronto Hydro Launches Free Wi-Fi Network

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  • by Siberwulf (921893) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:41AM (#16059175)
    Toronto Hydro gets around fears of the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse by requiring use of one's cell-phone number as the user ID.

    Oh to hack that database... It would probably be better just to submit your SSN in plaintext.
    • by geoffspear (692508) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:46AM (#16059210) Homepage
      Oddly enough, many Toronto residents for some reason don't qualify for a SSN.
      • by Siberwulf (921893)
        Give it about 20 years, everyone in the world will have a SSN ;-)

        </propaganda>
        • Give it about 20 years, everyone in the world will have a SSN ;-)

          Everyone in the world already has an SSN, they just haven't all been notified yet.

        • by PFI_Optix (936301)
          We're gonna have to move to SSN2 (point oh) to support that many.

          It'll take twenty years just for Democrats and Republicans to agree on the new number format. Then they'll have to approve a shinier--I mean harder to forge--card, adding another several years.
      • > Oddly enough, many Toronto residents for some reason don't qualify for a SSN.

        This is true. They have to make do with SINs.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          So *you're* the guy who goes around explaining jokes. Speaking of which, I've been wondering the meaning of the chicken crossing the road one. Can you do that?
           
          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            fowl play
      • by RexRhino (769423)
        No, they qualify for a SIN number, which is a far more appropriate acronym for the mark of the beast! :)
      • by Minwee (522556)
        That's because they're all living in SIN.
    • by Malc (1751)
      Cellphone? What a pain in the arse. I only got my first mobile phone 18 months ago, and am thinking of getting rid of it. They're more a nuisance and unnecessary cost than anything. I tried using my laptop at the local Second Cup, which has one of these HotSpots. They too require a mobile number (Rogers, Telus, Bell, etc). Of course, it wouldn't accept mine, I suspect because I use pay-as-you-go (cheaper for me than a regular plan). Anyway, for the cost, I will stick with my 5Mbs DSL with static IP..
  • Whoo. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:44AM (#16059192)
    Hmm. Impressive? The City of Norfolk [norfolkopenlink.com] in Norwich, UK, would beg to differ [bbc.co.uk]. To whit:
    a 4km radius from County Hall, as well as key sites to the east and west of the city: Broadland Business Park , University of East Anglia , Norwich Science Park and Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. In addition 28 hotspots in South Norfolk will be enabled shortly.
    That's pretty decent coverage for a back-water city in UK farmer country, and it's free. Kind of throws some context into this article, I reckon.
    • by Yst (936212)
      New Orleans' wireless coverage [cityofno.com] is similarly quite decent. And free, and anonymous, and fairly successfully blankets the downtown. Having used it on a recent trip down to NO, I'd be delighted to have something similar here in Toronto. This, however - temporarily free, spotty, non-anonymous coverage exclusively over the downtown core (excluding on the periphery even some areas would generally be considered "downtown" here) - isn't exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for in Toronto municipal wireless.
    • by Malc (1751)
      Norfolk's a county, not a city. Most of those places you mentioned are in one place. I went to the UEA (University of Extreme Apathy) myself. More interesting is the coverage south of the city, which when I was there, is getting a little too far east for prime UEA student territory. Anyway, what do you mean by "South Norfolk" - they have coverage in Thetford too?

      ANyway, look at the coverage maps. It's hardly an 8km diameter around County Hall. County Hall to UEA is probably 4km at most, and the covera
      • Ach, that Norfolk/Norwich thing has always been a blind spot for me; sorry. However, the rest was a blockquote from the site - I saw the maps too, which made me skeptical of the claims, but honestly I just remember reading about this when I saw the /. article and thinking "What the hell? How is this impressive?". It's hardly news when incremental progressions of that magnitude have been going on for the last couple of years all over the developed world. I just wanted to put it in perspective.
        • by Malc (1751)
          Indeed, it sounds like they're making it sound better than it is. Anyway, I'm three streets from where the final coverage will end, but no sour grapes here. With these 100 year old buildings and their thick walls, it's hard to get any kind of long range coverage. The Second Cup is probably about 50m from here and I rarely even see it in Network Stumbler when I'm sitting outside in my yard... let alone sitting indoors. So we shall have to see how well this thing works!
    • From the article:

      ...at 6 square kilometers said to be the largest in North America by the time rollout is complete in December...

      You must have missed that North America part...
      • by p0tat03 (985078)
        Not to mention that Toronto probably has a MUCH higher population density than a backwater UK town.
        • by Malc (1751)
          I'm from the UK (and went to Uni in Norwich). I now live in Toronto. This place is a mecca of space compared with that over-populated island. My guess would be that Toronto's downtown core has a half or a quarter the population density of Norwich. Even the small houses here are like mansions compared with the 2-up 2-down terraced house I lived in with 2 other friends in Norwich.
    • by rtaylor (70602)
      6km^2 isn't too bad for a proof of concept installation.

      Once tested and debugged it will be deployed over about 600km^2.
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:45AM (#16059201)
    If I wanted to use this network for bad things I would just have to get a Disposable cell phone and go from there.

    • no, the (grand)parent is correct. i'm curioius, what do you know about 'anywhere in the world'? in fact disposable handhelds have been available for at least ten years in countries that are generally referred to as 3rd world. take chile for example, or mexico.

      perhaps you followed the vodaphone scandal in greece this spring, whereby telephone network software was hacked in order to route communication to one of a number of 'disposable' phones? you can buy them at tag sales; do you really think that they're g
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nojomofo (123944)

      Shhhh..... Don't say that too loud. What they need (and using cell phone number provides) is the appearance of preventing the four horsemen from being able to use the service for their goals. It's a nice, big loophole for those who actually want privacy and freedom to slip through.

    • by really? (199452)
      Indeed.

      Here you go, http://toronto.craigslist.org/ele/203441664.html [craigslist.org]. Don't even need to go near a store, and, possibly, have a security camera pointed at you.
  • I wouldn't touch that network for the price they want. Way to pricey!
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:47AM (#16059222) Homepage Journal
    Toronto Hydro gets around fears of the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse by requiring use of one's cell-phone number as the user ID.

    So for people who rely on a land-line telephone, it isn't 30 CAD per month; it's 60, including the cost of a cell phone. (Or am I completely off about what cell phone contracts cost in Canada?)

    • by Thansal (999464)
      the cellphone thing is a one time entry, it is just so they can send you a text message with your name/pw. and $30 a month for (I am assuming) broadband speeds is not all that bad....
    • by Yst (936212)
      Cells are as little as $20CDN/mo, but $30CDN/mo is more typical (and typical of your mainstream Bell cell). My question, though, would be: accessing the network on the initial free basis, what's to stop people from simply using the cell numbers of just any other person at all but themselves for the sake of anonymity? Nothing, presumably? And if so, what's the point?
      • by lotrtrotk (853897)
        I would guess it's the same basic idea as most website account signups. The number you give them probably recieves a confirmation message. If you don't reply, you don't get access.
      • what's to stop people from simply using the cell numbers of just any other person at all but themselves for the sake of anonymity?

        Because then somebody else would receive the SMS containing the password to the network, not you. But for one thing, this invite system (also used by Gmail) doesn't discourage nigga stole my phone [ytmnsfw.com]. For another, the question remains: Why can't land-line phones receive SMS?

    • by Jonny_eh (765306) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:01AM (#16059855)
      Don't forget the $500-$2000 setup fee for people who don't have a computer.
    • "So for people who rely on a land-line telephone"

      I doubt people who just have a landline phone would need wireless internet in downtown toronto. Theres not many old people with laptops crusing the CBD are there?

      If you haven't lived in toronto, the area they are talking about covering is pretty much all commerical. There are very few residential buildings in that area. The ones that are residential, start in the rent range of $2000+ per month. I doubt someone who rented a 2000 dollar condo would not have a c
  • terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers huh? I'd take money launderers over murderers any day of the week! We're saying it's worse to cover up a bit of white collar crime than it is to kill someone?
    • To be fair, it's a bit tricky to murder someone over the Internet.
    • by be-fan (61476)
      Money laundering is associated with organized crime.
      • "Associated with" is a very convenient line of argument. It can be used to justify denouncing just about anything you wish.
        • by be-fan (61476)
          I don't mean money launderers have tenuous connections to organized crime. I mean the act of money laundering is one that is part of the list of illegal activities carried out by organized crime outfits.

          The large-scale, international money-laundering operations that exist do so to fund organized crime. Much work in the financial sector deals with trying to detect these money-laundering transactions through the international financial grid. That's why money laundering is one of the four-horsemen. It's not re
    • by orasio (188021)
      White collar crimes are no better than the other kind.
      Where I live, some bankers (Peirano, Rohm, and others, in uruguayan banks Comercial, Montevideo, and more), stole some hundred million dollars, and became one of the cause why the country entered a several year financial crisis, halting development, and effectively harming infrastructure. That has a social effect, and physically harms people, and can even kill them, like in the cases where "white collar criminals" steal from humanitarian help.
      Just becaus
  • by Thansal (999464) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:51AM (#16059256)
    from TFA # Enter your mobile phone number in the space provided. # You will instantly receive a text message containing your username and password. # Enter your username and password. # Start surfing. # Your username and password will remain valid for free service until March 2007 Your cell number is not your ID, they are just ussing a cell number much like you would use an E-Mail for registering for a forum or some such, Kinda like how GMail is giving out accounts (or was, I don't remember if it is still up). This is not designed as a counter to the 4 horsemen scare, infact it would be horribly easy for any one to obtain as many anon logins as they wanted via use of prepaid phones and changing the hpone numbers (something even prepaid accounts let you do).
  • FTA:
    To gain access to One Zone WiFi follow the easy steps below.

    Open your WiFi enabled device Use the network connections manager on your WiFi enabled device to view available wireless networks. Select the SSID One Zone_High Speed Internet Open your web browser and visit the new user page. Enter your mobile phone number in the space provided. You will instantly receive a text message containing your username and password. Enter your username and password. Start surfing. Your username and password will
    • I wonder if a particular username can only be logged in on one device at a time?

      Yes, I imagine that is the case. These guys would be ridiculous not to have something like that set up. This is how I have my hotspots configured.

      What I am wondering is what is the protection mechanism against running a script that sends mad txt messages out to random phones (by trying to sign up new accounts repeatedly). I wonder if Toronto Hydro would be getting a large bill for 10,000 txt messages sent out every 30 minute
  • I suppose the people who might buy into this are those with mobile wifi devices who have cash to burn. The whole blackberry-type crowd doesn't need this service and for home users it's too pricey. You can get broadband DSL or cable in Canada for $29 per month. It seems kind of niche to me.
    • by MrJynxx (902913)
      There's a ton of condos in and around the area coverage, now that being said most condos have T1's running into the building so access from you condo isn't an issue.

      However, a lot of people in this area are pretty active and tend to wander around the downtown core a lot so really it'll let these people take their laptop and goto the local coffee shop and surf they're lives away..

      But they are already having issues with users in office buildings, more specifically offices with reflective glass. There's even
  • I cannot see anywhere in the article (or the original site itself) where they are using any encryption whatsoever, it looks kinda unsecure to me. Yeah, the article says its as risky as wired access, but AFAIK no one is tapping my DSL line ;)
    • by greed (112493)

      Ummmm.

      If you need an encrypted connection, use an encrypted protocol; don't rely on the media to be secure. Doesn't everything know how to do TLS SMTP, IMAP, and POP3 these days? And https has been around for almost as long as http.

      Or if you really need wire security, here's a thought: buy a service that provides wire security. Don't expect it from city-wide wireless, just as you shouldn't expect that sort of security from any radio communications.

  • Free? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Otter (3800) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @09:57AM (#16059314) Journal
    Toronto Hydro Launches Free Wi-Fi Network

    As if things weren't complicated enough, now we have free-as-in-speech, free-as-in-beer, and free-as-in-$5/hour..

    Incidentally, if a digitalnetizengeezerologism like "The Four Horsemen" has caught on so poorly that you need to link to some netidinoWiredsaur's email from 1995, it's probably not worth hanging on to.

  • Does this sound a little steep to anyone? If I was on a business trip it would be more feesible to go with the monthly plan.
    • $29 (Canadian) per month, $10 for a day, or $5 for an hour.

      $29 per month = $29 for one month
      $10 for a day = approx $300 per month
      $5 an hour = approx $3600 per month

      Agreed, $10 and $5 both sound steep!
      • It this was MoneyMark or a credit card company then we would call it "price gouging".
      • If you're in Toronto for under 3 days though, the $10/day is acceptable.

        If you're going to check the internet for an hour every other day over the course of a week, the $5 a day is acceptable.

        However I suspect that most people will go for the safe $29 option. So if they only use it for 4 hours over their visit duration, the company has made an extra $9. If the per hour and per day fees were set at a reasonable level, then more people would go for them, thus possibly reducing the income to the company. $3/hr
        • by Jonavin (71006)
          $10/day is less than what most hotel charges for access, so I think that price-point is just about right.

          The per-hour price seems a bit high though. Isn't Internet cafe prices about $2-3 pre hour? And that includes the use of their computer (albeit, a computer that's potentially full of spyware and key loggers).

          I think $2 is more appropriate for an hourly rate. However, if you look at what the cell companies are charging for data access, $5 an hour isn't overly "inflated".
  • Just to clarify... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by k4_pacific (736911)
    Toronto Hydro is the power company, not the water company. Just in case you were wondering.
  • I know Toronto Hydro is not the first entity to use electricity lines and WIFI as a means of acessing the internet.

    What I am saying is that poor nations of the world, with old school telephone lines that are non existent or so bad, could use their electricity lines to provide internet access. The number of electricity users in these countries is always greater than landline users.

    These folks can count on "friendly" Canada and Toronto Hydro for lessons in setup.
    • by conteXXt (249905)
      Are they really using the power lines for the transmission?

      I seem to recall Hydro having a very extensive fibre network.

      They plan to roll out smart meters using (you guessed it fibre)
      and piggybacking wired access to homes down the road soon too.

      Anyone know the details?
  • terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, and money launderers, oh my!
  • Free at 29,95$ per month is not so free in my book. Way to mislead with the title there, poster!
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:15AM (#16059457) Homepage Journal
    It should be noted that it is only free for the initial trial period. Then, if experience of other city Wi-Fi solutions is anything to go by, then the hourly rate will be more than a days worth of home DSL.
    • by Khuffie (818093)
      Thank you for stating what's already in the summary? And ya, the hourly rate is expensive, but the monthly rate is $29 / month.
    • by bidule (173941)

      It should be noted that it is only free for the initial trial period. Then, if experience of other city Wi-Fi solutions is anything to go by, then the hourly rate will be more than a days worth of home DSL.

      Wow! Nice trolling. Apples and oranges.

      <sarcasm>
      I am sure that if you could rent a DSL by the hour, you'd pay more in a day than in a month of Hydro Wi-Fi. Damn them DSL provider, them trying to rip you off!
      </sarcasm>

      Another proof that stoopid moderators exist.

  • Its free for the first 6 months then they charge you 29$..... Last I checked both Bell and Rogers both have a 3 Months "Free" then bend you over a fence policy also. My definition of "Free" must be different than other peoples. I thought it meant something you didn't have to pay for, ever. Really because as soon as that "ever" kicks in, it ain't really free anymore, is it?

    Anyway still pretty cool though, good for Hydro and TO. Wee!
  • How does "city-wide" equal 6 sq. km?

    In Toronto, 6 sq. km is a small fraction of the city.

    This is NOT "city-wide".

    Fscking Liars.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by rikkards (98006)
      Yeah but the way Torontonians talk, they are Canada so it would be equivalent as "City-wide" :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by canadiangoose (606308)
      They've definately got the downtown core covered. Besides, it's my understanding that this is just the first phase of the network, and that the coverage will expand to include the entire Greater Toronto Area, suburbs and all. The Ontario provincial governement has legislated that all homes be equiped with "smart metres" that bill the consumer for elictricity at different rates based on the time of day. Smart metres require two-way communication with the power company, and the wifi network is being put up to
  • Portland, OR. is getting 134 sq miles of free wifi. Slower speeds will be ad supported, faster speeds you can pay for.

    Much better sounding project than America's hat is trying for.
  • So if I buy 3 days of service, or 6 discontiguous hours of service, I could've just as easily bought the entire month? Just give out the monthly fee, and use the savings of managing those other plans to offer it cheaper!
  • I tried the One Zone service yesterday from Queens and University. I didn't need to authenticate (didn't have to create a user account or provide my cell phone number). I just connected as you would to any free unsecure hot spot.
  • Maybe the reporter hasn't done much research on wifi. There are several municipal networks in north america that are much larger than 6 square km. Maybe they meant the program was larger in some other aspect?

    Google brought up a Business Week article with the top 10 city networks. Some are over 100 sq miles in size:

    http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/08/muni_wifi/ index_01.htm [businessweek.com]

    • by rtaylor (70602)
      This is just a proof of concept test. In 2 to 3 years the network should be about 600 sq km.

      Toronto Hydro is deploying the network so they can use it for meter reading. The fact that other municipal services and retail uses are available is a bonus.
  • The service will be free for 6 months and then will cost $29 (Canadian) per month

    I'd hardly call that free.

  • http://www.fred-ezone.com/coverage.php [fred-ezone.com] And it does a fair bit of the city too.
  • It's going to cost $29 a month. Like a lot of services they'll offer a free trial, in this case for six months.

    Saying this network is free is like saying that Crest toothpaste is free because Procter and Gamble mailed you a free sample--or saying that cars are free because the salesperson offers you a free test drive.
  • With this WiFi coverage I wouldn't a cell phone. I rarely travel that far from my house and would just carry my cordless IP phone with me...
  • I live in Toronto, and have actually tried to connect to this service quite a few times this morning.

    Everytime I get "There was an error joining the AirPort network "One Zone_High Speed Internet"" (I am using MacBook Pro, by the way).

    Has anyone been able to establish a connection today?
  • I find that hard to believe... the tiny city where I live [wikipedia.org] has a WiFi network at least 5 times that size [fred-ezone.com].

    Look at the coverage area, then look at the Wikipedia entry - 131 square km in the city. The WiFi covers at least 25% of the city, or 33 square KM.

    The only way this Toronto network could be called the "largest" would be if it was by population livig in the blanketed area. Not much of an achievement IMO.

  • Everybody has been exposed to the data. EM radiation is bad for you. It makes you stupid, stressed and generally zoned out.

    So now it's a matter of simply consolidating your position. You can live in denial and go along as though nothing is wrong (and mod posters like me into dust to make the bad thinkings go away), or accept the fact that our governments and corporations very deliberately work to make us stupid and easily controlled, and then react to that knowledge in an appropriate manner.

    I'm glad I mo

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