By Stacey Askew
Mike Hallora has a few problems with Ryerson’s wireless internet service.
“It keeps shutting off,” the first-year science student said, adding that certain buildings don’t have hot spots (an area where a wireless service is offered).
“I’d rather have (the city’s) Wi-Fi.”
He isn’t alone. Other students would also prefer to use Toronto’s new city-wide wireless service on campus when it reaches Ryerson later this month.
“It’s better for a student if they have something that works anywhere,” second-year fashion communication student Grace Carroll says.
Toronto Hydro Telecom marketing director Dino Farinaccia agrees, saying the network would be “fantastic for students because it’s not a hot spot.”
In other words, it can be accessed anywhere in the city.
Just not in Ryerson’s classrooms.
“You can’t get it in the buildings,” says Assistant CCS Director Ken Woo, adding that large amounts of steel and concrete prevent the signals from getting inside.
And some classrooms can accommodate up to 500 students. That many could not, he said, use Toronto Hydro’s service simultaneously.
But Woo says the lack of access to Toronto Hydro’s network won’t make a difference.
“We have better coverage than they’ll ever have,” he says. Jenna Brady, a nutrition student, says that while the service is generally “convenient… I get kicked off sometimes.”
Like Hallora, she’s also noticed that wireless internet isn’t available in certain buildings, such as Kerr Hall North.
That should change once the university expands its wireless service, which uses Wi-Fi technology on a much smaller scale, Woo said. The funding has not yet been approved, but wireless access is planned for the entire campus, including all buildings and green spaces.
Some are predicting that the hype surrounding Toronto Hydro’s network might not even last.
“My assumption is that there aren’t many clients (Toronto Hydro) would reach,” says ITM professor Catherine Middleton, who is researching how Canadian consumers benefit from internet use.
She also doesn’t think it will appeal to students after the ‘free trial’ ends in March and Toronto Hydro starts charging a monthly rate of $29.
“They are providing a service to people for a fee, yet building on top of what taxpayers are already paying for,” she says.
Carroll doesn’t think the city-wide network would be helpful to most Ryerson students because they may not be in the area often enough to reap its benefits.
“It’s not really as good for commuter students” who won’t have access to the service once they head home after class, she says.
According to the final report of the President’s Commission on Student Engagement and Experience, more than half of Ryerson students commute for more than 30 minutes on their way to and from school.
— With files from Kody Kunz and Kris Baker