Wi-Fi coverage in Ottawa’s downtown core is about to get wider as the city’s utility telecom is in the process of commissioning another network build. Telecom Ottawa initially launched a Wi-Fi trial at City Hall and at the Nepean Sportsplex in the city’s west end (RoW, Feb. 10/04) that has since been expanded to cover nearly all of Elgin Street, a main thoroughfare in the city’s downtown. The network will now go through yet another expansion, says Dave Dobbin, COO of Telecom Ottawa, adding the extended network should be up and running within the next month or so. Currently, Wi-Fi coverage is available between City Hall and the police station. That network will be expanded by another 15 square blocks in the Golden Triangle, a trendy area in the city’s core between the Rideau Canal and Elgin Street. "That’s quite a busy hotel district and there’s all sorts of apartments and diplomatic residences," Dobbin tells Report on Wireless. He doesn’t have exact figures on uptake rates for the current trial, but says there are approximately 20 to 50 users per day. The utility telecom will again use equipment from Ottawa-based BelAir Networks to expand the network. BelAir has adopted a novel approach to blanketing areas with wireless coverage by using equipment that is installed outdoors as opposed to indoors as is done with traditional Wi-Fi equipment. Gear from BelAir allows Telecom Ottawa to offer some unique features to potential third party operators, explains Dobbin. He says multiple service set identifiers (SSIDs), which act like passwords allowing or not wireless devices to connect to the network, can be layered on a single network. "The neat thing about this is what the BelAir equipment allows us to do. We can not only broadcast our own SSID, but we actually have the ability to resell SSIDs. We can actually resell an entire Wi-Fi network through another carrier and they can put their own SSID name on it and have their own network on top of ours," explains Dobbin. "We haven’t pitched (that aspect) yet, but we’ve played with it," Dobbin says. Deploying public access networks covering parts of or entire cities isn’t a new trend, as a recent conference in Ottawa explored (RoW, May 4/04). Presentations at the Smart City Summit in April highlighted several of these deployments. It was noted that there are between 40 and 60 citywide wireless local area network deployments where the municipal government is the driving force behind the project. Add in the many more driven by private sector interests, and this number grows considerably.