Victoria's public Wi-Fi expands

Shaw deal will see wider availability of Wi-Fi in recreation centres, parks

Victoria is widening its Wi-Fi footprint to include recreation centres, some parks and more downtown streets.

The city is signing a five-year agreement with Shaw Communications to expand its current Wi-Fi services and create a separate wireless network for Victoria.

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The deal means Shaw customers will have wireless access in a wider range of locations. Non-subscribers and tourists will get free access for 60 minutes a month. Everyone will be able to tap into the city website.

Mayor Dean Fortin called it a great deal for the city. "Part of the arrangement is Shaw picks up our cable bill," he said with a chuckle.

Under the deal, Shaw agrees to provide:

• A separate wireless network for the city (potentially for BlackBerrys, computers and parking-service devices).

• Free unlimited Wi-Fi access to the city website for both Shaw customers and non-customers.

• Free 60-minute monthly guest access for tourists and non-Shaw customers.

• Shaw has offered to pay $200,000 on execution and $50,000 a year for the remaining four years, for access to city sites.

• Permit and inspection fees of $100 per access point.

• A power-consumption fee of $14 a year for indoor access points and $30 for outdoor access points.

Shaw offers Wi-Fi signals in public areas throughout Victoria, and includes access in its Internet service subscriptions. The company estimates about 55 per cent of the city's residents are subscribers.

Shaw wants to expand service downtown to include more streets, some parks and city buildings such as city hall, community centres and recreation centres.

To do so, it needs to place equipment on buildings, and street light and traffic light poles. Some outdoor access points require small antennas and will extend about 100 metres.

Shaw will not be allowed access points on ornamental lamp posts or heritage structures.

Fortin said it's great that community centres and recreation centres will have free Wi-Fi.

"It helps people in our community. It helps community centres and obviously helps, overall, the city of Victoria," he said.

"It also moves us toward something we've talked about for years as [being] a learning city. We will have Wi-Fi in Greater Victoria - especially in the downtown."

And, he said, the deal is not exclusive. "So if any other provider such as Rogers or Telus wants to come and do the same thing, they also can come forward and do that," Fortin said.

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