Wi-Fi for downtown Ottawa, Gatineau delayed

The NCC is scaling back its plans to equip most of downtown Ottawa and areas of Gatineau with free wireless internet.

Plans to equip downtown Ottawa and areas of Gatineau with wireless internet are delayed for a few more months as the National Capital Commission scales back the idea.

The NCC has planned to launch free Wi-Fi Friday to help tourists browse the web on their mobile devices.

The original plan had large zones of free internet access but the costs were far beyond the budget, according to the NCC's director of digital communications.

Instead, the WiFi will only be in small pockets on Parliament Hill, the National War Memorial and other major tourist sites in the nation's capital. The new launch date is sometime in June.

"When we opened the financial envelope, it was not necessarily in line with our budget," said Daniel Feeny.

"It's not the end of the world and trust me, we'll have a network very soon."

NCC looking for sponsorship, business support

The NCC hopes it can find some sponsorship to help boost the program, just as it did with the Capital Bixi bikes.

Feeny said there have been some talks with local tourism and business groups. It does not look like the City of Ottawa is interested, though.

"It hasn't been through this sub-committee," said Coun. Tim Tierney, who chairs the city's information technology committee.

"We're always open to these discussions. We'd love to be partners. At the same time, we have a lot of fiscal restraints within the city," he added.

The city's priorities, according to Tierney, include improving the city's website and other online services. There could be more interest, though, in 2013.

The NCC has closed the Infocentre, which moved from its larger space at the corner of Wellington and O’Connor streets to a smaller kiosk in the World Exchange Plaza.