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2007 01 29
Toronto’s One Zone Best In World?
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The eminent design futurist Buckminster Fuller once argued that modern buildings were so many fancy nozzles on the really important stuff of the city: the engineered services that are hidden below ground. While architects may take issue with being dismissed as mere stylists, Toronto just added another invisible technology to Fuller's modern city. Today, a city is not a world contender unless it offers a ubiquitous, high-speed Internet service. Now Toronto has one.

The international press is alive this week with news about Toronto Hydro's "Zone One" service. What has caught the attention of the world's geek community? It turns out that Toronto Hydro has unleashed a world-beating wireless system that boasts the fastest speeds of any competitive cities. Wi-Fi Technology writes:
Testing was conducted in mid-December by Novarum Inc., an independent consulting firm offering comprehensive broadband wireless advisory, analysis and testing services. Novarum is developing the first standardized benchmarks for overall wireless network performance. All of the North American wireless mesh networks were tested from a user perspective with industry-standard tools and methodology in Q3 and Q4 of 2006.

“We tested 41 wireless networks in 14 cities, and the performance of Toronto Hydro Telecom’s One Zone, delivering speeds of up to 5 Mbps bi-directionally, was stunning,” said Ken Biba, one of Novarum’s analysts. “One Zone’s performance is better than my broadband connection at home and, on average, five times faster than any of the other networks we tested. Most impressive was the fact that this exceptional performance is being delivered in the challenging environment of a dense urban canyon.”

Forget about Toronto's lack-luster promotional advertising, this is big news for the city and provides a competitive difference to businesses and cultural producers here. In the 21st Century, access to information is power. In that way Toronto Hydro's decision to give us this access is a further catalyst to the city's renaissance. It also reminds us that a city is not only its buildings - sorry AGO and ROM, we love you anyway. The foundation of a successful city is often the stuff hidden below grade or the invisible mesh of a wireless network. Ask Fuller.

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Zone One covers this six square mile section of the city's core.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 01/29 at 01:11 PM

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