Windsor goes wireless

Ashley
Ashley Thompson
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Town offers free WiFi to downtown core

 

Windsor is the third municipality in Nova Scotia to offer free high-speed Internet services within its downtown core.

The Windsor Mesh Network will allow anyone with a computer or web-ready electronic device to connect to the Internet in the town’s downtown core free of charge.

The service is currently available around the town office, on sections of King Street, Water Street, Gerrish Street and Grey Street, and in some surrounding areas.

Windsor’s CAO Louis Coutinho says the network’s range may be gradually expanded in the future to provide free Internet to more areas within the town’s limits.

“Council will be considering this expansion on an annual basis, depending on our financial ability and the interest of the community,” he wrote in an email to the Journal.

Coutinho said Windsor town council felt the free wireless network may make the town a more appealing place to conduct business.

“Council has made many changes to encourage and foster a friendlier business climate; and successive councils have invested in technologies such as the Valley Cable Fibre Network (VCFN) that runs from Windsor all the way up to the heart of the Valley. One of the advantages of having high-fibre cable is the advantage of attracting industries that need powerful, high-fibre cable for business purposes.”

And, Coutinho suspects, the network, a project partially funded by the Windsor Business Enhancement Society, will prove to be a valuable resource for people on the go.

“With all the technology devices that people carry around today, they will find a place where they can do business over the Internet anywhere they sit in the downtown… in their parked vehicles, at a restaurant, in a store or any place that has a chair.” 

With all the technology devices that people carry around today, they will find a place where they can do business over the Internet anywhere they sit in the downtown… in their parked vehicles, at a restaurant, in a store or any place that has a chair. CAO Louis Coutinho

In 2008, the Town of Hantsport was the first municipality in Nova Scotia to offer a free wireless network in their downtown core; the Halifax Regional Municipality was the second.

“Windsor is appreciative of the Town of Hantsport’s wireless network that made it possible for us to develop our own,” said Coutinho, noting that the towns both turned to Matt Povah, the IT specialist for the Town of Windsor, when they chose to go wireless.

Hantsport’s CAO Jeffrey Lawrence says he is pleased with his town’s wireless network.

“It’s working very well. We plan to deploy four new radios this spring, which should cover close to two thirds of the town,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said Hantsport’s town council has discussed extending the service to the Holmes Hill area eventually, but they will branch out from downtown first.

He says the network has a few “self-imposed” restrictions but, for the most part, the town has largely benefitted from offering the service that draws tourists, and helps local businesses.

“For the citizens that want to do a lot of gaming and a lot of streaming, we’ve blocked those ports so if you wanted that capability you would have to go to Aliant or Eastlink. But if you want to check your email, do banking or just search the web you can do it on our network,” Lawrence explained.

“We have a number of people now that on their commute will stop in to Hantsport just to download their email, check their files, that sort of thing.”

 

Organizations: Windsor Mesh Network, Valley Cable Fibre Network, Windsor town council Windsor Business Enhancement Society Halifax Regional Municipality Aliant

Geographic location: Windsor, Nova Scotia, Hantsport King Street Water Street Gerrish Street Grey Street Holmes Hill

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