Free Wi-Fi in Montague? It could become a reality

The town of Montague is looking into providing residents with access to free internet.

'We might as well look into what’s possible and go outside the norm a little bit'

Montague CAO says they've sent out a request for proposals to see the cost and benefit of providing internet to the town. (CBC)

The town of Montague, P.E.I., is looking into providing residents and visitors with access to free internet.

The town recently put out a request for proposals, looking into the costs and benefits free internet would provide for people living in and visiting the Montague area.

"We're just looking for a Wi-Fi system that could be installed just so that when people come into Montague they can hook onto a secure Wi-Fi and travel the town," says the town's Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Daggett.

Daggett said the town is reviewing three potential ideas for free Wi-Fi: the first would be making Wi-Fi available to just the downtown area, the second would be expanding it to the main drag and the third would be making it available for the entire town.

Start small, or go for the 'whole pie'

The town is going to go with the most affordable option of the three ideas, Daggett said.

"Maybe we have to start smaller and expand, or maybe we decide to go for the whole pie on the first shot," he added.

"We're fortunate in one way because we're not a huge area to cover. Montague is three square kilometres in total area so it's not a huge area to take in."

Advertising local business

The town is also considering tying advtertisements to the free Wi-Fi, so that people who connect will have to watch an advertisement for about 10 minutes of free internet before they'd have to watch another ad.

"That's kind of what we're considering and what benefits that could bring," he said.

'We know there are systems out there where basically it’s accessed by watching a short advertisement then you can have free Wi-Fi for 10 minutes,' says Daggett. (CBC)

The ideal model for the town, he added, would be for visitors to connect to the Wi-Fi, see an advertisement for a local business and drive people there as a result.

"If we can get local content for the ads than we can drive people to the local businesses."

Because Montague is a small town, he expects the free-internet project may be a little easier to implement than a bigger municipality.

"We might as well look into what's possible and go outside the norm a little bit. We are a very small community which in some ways restricts us, but in some ways, and this is one of them, this is kind of an advantage."

The deadline for proposals is Oct. 13.

Daggett said the town would ideally have free internet up and running by spring or early summer 2018.

With files from Laura Chapin