Free city wifi now available in Queen’s Park, Uptown

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.

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.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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12 comments

  1. I’m extremely grateful to the City of New Westminster for implementing free WiFi access. I have, for many years now, felt such a thing would be very useful, and have (to put my money where my mouth was) kept my own personal WiFi at home password-free. I have not once regretted doing so.

    The ’10s seem promising so far.

  2. I think the WI FI is a waste of our tax dollars. Did you know Holwachuk (sic) department has spent like a million bucks on this boondoggle.

    I wonder if anyone has told him that you can get access through private industry who sell those raspberries or blueberries or strawberries.

    And you need the code to use it. Ohh, Wonderful, So for all the people who don't know the code they can not use it.

    What a farce. Stay out of telecommunications, you can barely run the city let alone hi-fi's or why fi's for Pete's sake.

    N.W.

    1. Hi Norman,

      I don't know how much has been spent on this, but there are precedents in other compact towns that indicate citywide, free wifi can be good for the local economy. There are also potential cost savings for the city, as I understand it. I agree with you however that the pilot won't be very useful to the city if it is intended to gauge public interest in using the networks. Requiring passwords and limiting the time people can use the network makes it a lot less appealing to try.

  3. Hello Briana this is a reply

    I was incorrect about the amount spent, By one ZERO. It cost ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS not the million i previously stated.

    I never was good at counting beans. Thats why god created accountants.

    And that's just it Briana, it's not free. It's not a user paid system, its a tax payer based system. The bulk of the people paying for it, get no use from it. My understanding is a total of 45 users can be on the system at any one time from 3 different locations for a maximum of 1 hour *IF* they have the password.

    I sure hope they release the usage of this service, so we know exactly how much it cost per hour of real-time use.

    Then we can determine the difference charged by the other companies offering 'mobile internet', and the price the tax payers footed for the few who can read and know of its existence.

    And as a tax payer, why do I want to pay for some women (maybe some men too) downloading porn for free on my dime ? What else are they going to use it for ?

    N.W.

  4. I was talking with a friend, and thought I might add this other tid bit.

    Ihop locations offer free why-fi.

    Perhaps the city should have made a lease arrangement to have an Ihop in the park. Instead of costing them, they would make money, and free why-fi's !

    And the best part, *** Ihop in the park for breakfast, but not just breakfast !!! ***

    N.W.

  5. I think it's a great idea. When shopping, you can check on-line for competitor's prices, or for more technical details: eg – laptop specs, cellphone plans, camera specs, etc., while being in a retail location

  6. I wonder what service (ISP) they are using to get the 100mbs ? Shaw has 100mbs called Nitro for $149 a month. They would then have to purchase a router good enough to reach a good distance ( not that expensive or contract it out to get the lowest price) The only difference between E100 100mbs and a Shaw Business Deal is that Shaw is pretty cheap but it will only have 100mbs Download not Upload (only 5 mbs) but this could arranged with Shaw and ask them to boost it to 50mbs Uplaod for another $50 a month. My point is I don't understand how this is goign to cost the taxpayers $100,000. I would not be surprised if you could get this whole thing done till Dec 2010 for $5,000 – 1/20th of the cost ok 3 locations – $15,000

  7. Reading the 'ol Province Rag today, and this story caught my eye….

    "Scientist warns of dangers of WI-FI exposure" in the nation section aug 25 2010

    It would seem a British scientist, and former naval weapon expert is warning Canadian schools about the dangers posed by prolonged exposure to low level microwaves at the DNA level.

    "Children are not small adults, they are underdeveloped adults, so there are different symptoms."

    Barrie Trowers also states that there are no scientific studies that categorically state there is no harm from prolonged exposure to these fields of energy.

    Perhaps we should consider these things before we start beaming this radiation into our parks, and public places that are supposed to be free from such technological pollution.

    Mr. Trowers is lecturing at the U-o-T on Tuesday, and teaches at Britain's Dartmoor College.

    N.W.

    1. Saw this on news 1130 thought I would add it in, Why-Fi makes white rock womans heart race !
      http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/111062

      This woman is looking to get their city's council to put a moratorium on why-fi's, she also spoken with the BC teachers federation, and other municipalities.

      Good for her, we need to think about the children and environment before convenience.

      N.W.

      1. Learned a new one today, Why-Fry !

        I actually have to admit I'm floored with learning a bit more about this stuff, the news 1130 comments are over 45, with some very disconcerting information. The first link I checked out was
        MOMSFORSAFEWIRELESS.ORG, and it has a ton of information on various technologies, emissions and possible effects, but what particularly drew my attention was the Why-Fry in Schools. Then I noticed a link to a Canadian story, the CBC National, Sept 8 2010 by Ioanna Roumeliotis
        http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_Natio

        And it makes me wonder if the NW school board has installed these emission sources in kindergarten classrooms

        N.W.

  8. I wonder if they have made any findings with the success of this program. I wonder if they would take the passwords out, and replace them with per-user bandwidth allocation.

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