Sunday, March 26, 2006

Edmonton's Slow Uptake on Municipal WI FI

Municipal WIFI in Edmonton??? Sure, maybe, but not now, maybe never?A few weeks ago, as I posted the action by Toronto to establish municipally controlled wi fi, I suggested this as a story for the Edmonton Journal. Well, Shawn Ohler, reporter for the Edmonton Journal, was in fact planning to do such a story and interviewed me on my feelings on whether Edmonton should join Toronto and other municipalities in the wi fi push. The result was an excellent article, complete with comments from city councillors like Michael Phair, who is ready, and anxious, to move on this initiative, and Kevin MacMillen, Edmonton banker and member of Edmonton's Next Generation Task Force who sees an affordable municipal Wi-Fi network as a hot-button topic.

But will it happen? The answer is it should - but that doesn't mean it will. Shawn reflected reality by titling his piece "Edmonton slow to hook up with urban Wi-Fi revolution". And it's true, that the go slow approach will probably win the day, and Edmonton will lose the opportunity to be in the vanguard of providing access to the world wide web for its citizens. Instead money will be unnecessarily expended for small, isolated efforts which will not address the issue of free and equitable access to public information - like the Edmonton city website - or community information sites like the Edmonton Journal website.

So unless you have the dollars to pay for your own connection, try to grab one of the few access points available to the general public - library, hot spot coffee shops, or book a hotel room.

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