By the end of the year, Boulevard St. Laurent’s pedestrians, shoppers, residents, and vendors will be logging in for free to Canada’s largest wireless network.
The network, which will be operational in late December, will span the Boulevard, affectionately known as the Main between Sherbrooke and Mont Royal.
According to André Beauséjour, the Executive Director of Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent (SDBSL), the wireless network will be accessible in all retailers, office buildings, and apartments in the area.
“We hope to ensure access to the network to everyone within the area,” said Beauséjour. “However, this all depends on each building’s individual signal reception.”
The project is being financed by SDBSL, as part of its annual budget. “We see this new network as a worthwhile investment – a longterm advertising and communications campaign for the Boulevard,” said Beauséjour.
To access the network, pedestrians must first pick up a free access card from any of the Main’s retailers. After logging in for the first time, customers can access the network at anytime without the use of the cards for up to six months.
“While computers can easily pick up unlocked Internet signals on their own, the cards ensure the network’s security. When users log in, they give us their email addresses, which enables us to keep the network clean,” said Beauséjour. “At the end of six months, customers can simply obtain a new card from any store.”
Beauséjour is optimistic about the network’s installation, “While the technology is complicated and installation will only be finalized by the end of the year, the network promises to work smoothly without any drawbacks.”
The accessible network promises many benefits to the Main’s customers.
“A lady can shop for clothes while her husband reads the results of a sporting event online. A customer can look up information on a certain product while in an electronics store,” Beauséjour said, noting only a few examples. “Today, there are many applications of a wireless network. It is no longer just used for sitting in a café and using your laptop.”
Many of the Main’s vendors are in favour of the network. “What’s good for the clients is good for us,” said George Ouellet, the Assistant Manager of Laika, a café, restaurant, and bar on St. Laurent and Duluth. “We no longer have to foot the bill to get wireless, which helps to cut down our costs.”
The implementation of a wireless network, however, is unlikely to affect the fine dining experience offered at Montreal’s famous steakhouse Moishe’s.
“People do not sit in my restaurant with laptops,” said Larry Lighter, the owner of Moishe’s. “The presence of this network will have no real effect on my business and as long as I am never charged for it, I have no concerns.”
SDBSL undertook the wireless project to draw Montrealers to the Boulevard St. Laurent.
“The network aims to attract more people to the Main’s establishments, whether it be people who live or work on the street or those just visiting,” Beauséjour commented. “All in all, more traffic on the street means more business.”