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Split Decision

by Olivia Rutt and Jaime Myslik

Public Wi-Fi

Stay connected

Centre Wellington is considering installing a wireless network in the downtown core of both Fergus and Elora to boost tourism.

It’s an exciting incentive but could leave locals grumbling “why?”

Those of us who live in rural parts of the county have limited access to high-speed internet and might be bothered by the idea of spending taxpayer dollars on something that won’t benefit us.

But it actually might. Towns and cities around the world are jumping on this free public Wi-Fi bandwagon. It has been immensely helpful in my travels.

During a trip to Salzburg, Austria, I accessed the public Wi-Fi to search for restaurants near me as I had no access to the LTE network. I was also able to send a few messages back home letting them know I was safe and was enjoying pretending to be Julie Andrews (important stuff really).

I was able to survive on two international trips without using a calling card or local SIM card. Being connected and having information available at the tap of a screen is the new world we live in.

Having public Wi-Fi will allow tourists to have access to information to connect further with our area. They can share photos, snaps and tweets in an instant and further encourage tourism to the area.

Who knows, maybe even the locals will use it sitting in our beautiful parks, rather than at home wanting to smash the computer because the internet is too slow.

– Olivia


No need for public Wi-Fi

Remember in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the internet also tied up the phone line?

Look how far we’ve come. We can access the internet on smart phones and it seems like every restaurant and store has some sort of accessible Wi-Fi for customers.

Even Centre Wellington is considering Wi-Fi in public areas throughout the township.

But doesn’t it seem like the township is a bit late?

Yes, 10 years ago public Wi-Fi would have been great. Cellular data plans were expensive and few people had large amounts of data available - if they had data at all. At that time finding Wi-Fi meant contact with the world wide web.

But now? Most of us have that access on our phones anyway.

Yes, it’s great for travellers. I’ve used countless Wi-Fi hotspots in cities across the world but they were big metropolises (think Boston and Rome). Even then I only used the city Wi-Fi sparingly.

By definition public Wi-Fi access likely isn’t secure. In a world of cyber threats, it’s downright scary when you’re connected to an unsecured network. It really limits the service’s usefulness.

Why not offer local shops, restaurants and pubs a partnership to offer secure Wi-Fi in each of their establishments?

Outdoor Wi-Fi is really only useful in the summer months but if the township were to partner with businesses the Wi-Fi would be useful year round and could be enjoyed at a table with a cup of coffee.  

– Jaime

Vol 50 Issue 38


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Wellington County


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