Life on the Other Side of the Digital Coin

So, my hunt for Wi-Fi in Bayfield, Ont. was finally successful as the public library offers free access.

What’s interesting is the library seems to be the place in town where most people go to get online. With a large retirement community that only needs occasional access to the Web, the library’s computer and its Linksys router meets the needs for many people who may not have a computer at home.

When I told the librarian how it was difficult to find Wi-Fi in town, she said so many people depend on the library’s Internet connection that there is much unhappiness when technical issues knock out its service.

So, what are people doing online? Mostly, e-mail and paying bills. No mention about Twitter, Techmeme, Facebook or Friendster.

What I found funny and interesting is the librarian told me that when people want to get online when the library is closed, they park their cars outside, and then jump on the wireless network.

You figure with this kind of demand, an enterprising cafe owner would offer free Wi-Fi to paying customers, or even a little CyberCafe.

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  • Jim Courtney

    Mark, you need to take your vacation 116 km north on the Bluewater Highway in Southampton where the almost 100-year-old Bruce Municipal Telephone System is installing fiber to the 1200 homes – at no expense to the homeowners other than permission to lay the fiber to the building. By this fall their residents (many of whom are summer only) will be getting Internet/TV/phone all via fiber.

  • Erik

    I had a similar experience last year while at a friend’s cottage on the Rideau. I needed to plug-in to send a few emails that were ready to go on my laptop, and headed into Smiths Falls only to find that there were no internet cafes. I did find internet access at the library, but unfortunately not wifi…I got blank stares when I asked about it…and they completely freaked out when I tried to unplug the ethernet cable from their PC and plug it into my laptop. So I ended up using a jump drive to cut emails from my laptop’s outbox and paste them into webmail screens on the library’s computers. Needless to say, it was a long and harrowing ordeal.

  • Todd Lamothe

    I am a Sys Admin with the libraries in Lennox & Addington and it is amazing how many people will use our free WiFi from their car, sitting on the step when the library is closed. The kids tell me they love the WiFi for downloading stuff to the PSP and iPod touch.

    Public WiFi is a service which libraries are in a good position to serve. In our area, there are large pockets where high speed at home is not available, so our WiFi service is needed.

  • Mark Evans


    Thanks for the comment and the insight. For all the talk about municipal Wi-Fi, it’s great to see libraries in smaller towns take the bull by the horns.


  • Jim Courtney

    Yesterday, in testing out a Rogers WiFi HotSpot for using my Blackberry, (meaning at a Second Cup coffee for the majority of locations) I had lunch in the neighbouring Subway and made the WiFi attachment at the Second Cup just fine. Rogers does allow free access to their own WiFi HotSpots (not the entire Canadian HotSpot Network) if you are on a $30/6GB per month data plan.

    Rumor has it that many park their cars throughout the night at Starbucks in the U.S. just to get WiFi access.