Tag Archives: Ile Sans Fil

Ile Sans Fil in the park

Both Union Montreal and Vision Montreal have an element on their platforms that some technologically-inclined Montrealers might find interesting: free (or cheap) wireless Internet access in public parks and other public areas.

The idea isn’t new. The city first approached the volunteer group Ile Sans Fil more than two years ago to talk about setting up such a system. Ile Sans Fil provides free wireless Internet through more than 150 access points in the city, most through places like coffee shops who pay ISF a small fee.

The city has even conducted studies and hearings on the subject, and a presentation given in November 2007 resulted in only one comment, in support of the project. In a report, filed at the beginning of 2008 (PDF), the city’s commission on economic development recommended setting up a network with Ile Sans Fil.

For various reasons internal to the city’s operation, this issue has been sitting on a shelf since then. ISF even appealed to the public in August 2008, (perhaps prematurely), though specifying that the group wasn’t in danger if the deal fell through. ISF were expecting a call for tenders earlier this year on a free wifi project, which it would then bid on and be a clear favourite for, but it never came.

Both Tremblay and Harel should be somewhat embarrassed to have this on their platforms. Tremblay because the city hasn’t acted on this yet despite the preliminary work being done, and Harel because it was an idea of the Tremblay administration that her party has now stolen.

Ile Sans Fil still the king

Roberto Rocha has an article about Ile Sans Fil (and current head Laurent Maisonnave), the volunteer-run free wireless hot spot network, which is still thriving while for-profit commercial systems have either been delayed or quietly cancelled.

I remember having a meeting long ago with a guy who had this idea of starting up a free wifi network. This was before laptops came with wireless built-in and before most people even knew what it was. I thought the guy was crazy, or at least naive, thinking such a network could be setup.

He went and created Ile Sans Fil, which now has about 150 hotspots.

Don’t I feel silly.

Ile Sans Fil might get a big boost from City Hall

Ile Sans FilMy 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)