You can now access free wifi in Queen’s Park, the New Westminster Public Library, and the Uptown business district, courtesy of the City of New Westminster.
Wifi access will be available for up to 15 users per location at Queen’s Park, New Westminster Public Library and the Uptown Business District at 6th Avenue and 6th Street. Access codes for each location are:
- Queen’s Park – 1122
- New Westminster Public Library – 3388
- Uptown Business District – 2233
During the pilot project, users will be limited to Wifi access for one hour per day. Access point hardware and technology is provided by Bell and Motorola.
I asked New Westminster’s Chief Technology Officer Alvin Chok via email about the limitations on access, and this is what he had to say:
Briana: Could you please tell me why the wifi access is limited to only 15 users, and only one hour per day? How is this enforced?
Alvin: Right now, our Internet pipe is via a coupled T-1, which has a limited data capacity of 3 mbs; henceforth, we have to limit the number of concurrent users as well. However, we are replacing the T-1 with a bigger E-100 pipe (100 mbs) which should be ready by mid-August (according to our telecommunications vendor). We should be able to accommodate more users then.
Users can try out the Wi-fi network for an hour and their sessions will automatically terminate after an hour. However, we do not strictly enforce the one-hour per day rule. Having said that, we would like to ask our users to be considerate so that others can try it out as well.
Briana: Is the access code entered as a network key, or is it similar to how many airport hot spots work, where users are redirected to a browser page where they must key in a password or sign up for paid service?
Alvin: The user must enter the access code in order to access the Wi-Fi network. It is a login screen via the Datavalet gateway.
Briana: Does the wifi access work with smartphones such as iPhone and iPads? I ask only because I’ve had trouble accessing gated wifi systems using my iPhone, particularly those that rely on an Internet Explorer start page to gain access.
Alvin: Good question – I tried on my Blackberry and it seemed to work without the need to go to Internet Explorer. We have not tested the Ipad yet.
The pilot project will continue until December 2010. Following the pilot project, city staff will evaluate the performance and reliability of the wireless technology, assess user feedback and review potential for improving municipal operation efficiencies. Based on the findings, a recommendation as to whether or not to expand Wifi across the City will be made to City Council for consideration.
In the media release announcing the project, the wifi initiative was described as being part of New Westminster’s long-term “Livable City” strategy to attract businesses, residents and visitors to the Royal City.