Toronto Hydro originally said they'd blanket the city with Wi-Fi; now, it's 4,000 subscribers before expansion: I had wondered what had happened to the utility's plans to move beyond the six sq km originally built. Because Toronto Hydro owns the poles--they bought them from the city in a deal designed to move deck chairs around on the ship of state--they would have fewer difficulties in deploying than network operators in other cities. Now, the president of the firm says that to build the network further, they would need 4,000 subscribers paying Cdn$30 (nearly US$30) per month.
It sounds like they might be approaching that number--43,000 free accounts and 10 percent conversion to paying customers--but there's no actual disclosed number nor timetable. Toronto Hydro's president "said he couldn't release the number of subscribers the network has..." Yes, that's what's great about a publicly owned utility with responsibility to its customers and taxpayers: all that transparency, especially given the...competition.
Canada's Rogers telecom firm says that WiMax will supercede Wi-Fi, which is rather hilarious. WiMax requires all new adapters for computers, licensed spectrum, and billions in deployment. Wi-Fi isn't ideal, but for mobile applications and mobile access, it ridiculously cost competitive even with its substantial limitations.
The description of Philadelphia's network evolution is rather inaccurate, unfortunately, since it's used as a comparison with Toronto's project. Phila. floated its Wi-Fi plan in fall 2004, put out a bid in spring 2005, and awarded it to EarthLink in fall 2006. It took until mid-2007 for the contract details to be finalized, and additional time in sorting out utility pole and attachment issues. The article describes the project changing hands, but Wireless Philadelphia was never going to build a company to create the network; it was always going to work with a contractor, and EarthLink's "innovation" was offering to pay 100 percent of the costs, bear all the risks, and provide digital divide benefits to boot.