My first dealing with Île Sans Fil came a few years ago when I was at Concordia. I was talking with this guy who had a crazy idea of setting up wireless hotspots all over the place and letting people connect to them for free.
Though I thought the cause noble, I had my doubts, chiefly because Internet service providers were against the idea of people sharing their access. It put more strain on bandwidth and removed a layer of accountability. Concordia, which had strict rules about sharing Internet access because it had a fat pipe and didn’t regulate bandwidth, didn’t let them set up.
So they went elsewhere. Coffee shops in the plateau were helpful, because it would give the young early adopters of this Wi-Fi thing a reason to come to their shops and order coffee. The network expanded and now it has hotspots all over the city.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with Evan Prodromou at Caffè Art Java (an ISF hotspot), interviewing him for an article that will hopefully come out before I have grandchildren. He briefly said hi to a friend of his from ISF and mentioned that they’re finally, after all this time, talking to the City of Montreal about municipally-backed hotspots.
Today, it looks like those talks were fruitful. La Presse’s Tristan Peloquin has the scoop through a document
ISF handed to him that was obtained by him yesterday. The city will be offering the group $200,000 a year for five years to setup and run 400 wireless hotspots in public areas of the city, including Place des Arts and all 17 nature parks in Montreal, (parks like Mount Royal Park, Jean-Drapeau, Angrignon Park, Cap St. Jacques, Ile Bizard, Lafontaine Park, Maisonneuve Park and Jarry Park).
The proposal still has to be presented to the executive committee, who will have the last word.
UPDATE: The slide presentation about the project is online (PDF)