Toronto Hydro Telecom unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday to turn Toronto into a "Wi-Fi hotspot" that would allow people to hook up to the internet from almost anywhere in the city.

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Clare Copeland 
with Wi-Fi device 


James Murray reports
on the announcement
(runs 02:33)
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The utility is the newest competitor in a field already crowded with companies like Rogers, Bell and Telus, all trying to secure a piece of the fast-growing $8-billion wireless market.

Toronto Hydro Telecom clients will simply have to turn on their computers to be connected, whether they're riding in a taxi, on a streetcar or relaxing at Cherry Beach.

"The new Wi-Fi zone will be fully in place by the end of 2006, making downtown Toronto a communications hotspot," predicted Toronto Hydro's chairman Clare Copeland at the media conference.

Great for the city

University of Toronto sociology professor Barry Wellman said Wi-Fi was a great fit for a city the size of Toronto.

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Michelle Cheung reports
on reaction from the
business community
(runs 02:11)
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"We still have this outdated notion of community as linked to the neighbourhood. But all our research shows that most peoples' really strong ties are scattered throughout the city and beyond," he said.

Toronto is following the lead of several American centres by providing blanket service across the entire city.

Rogers, Bell and Telus offer limited wireless internet in coffee shops, airport lounges and select other places.

The plan for Toronto Hydro is to install wireless equipment on hydro poles and traffic lights, with equipment connecting to the internet via the utility's network.