A local Internet firm has agreed to pay the City of Ottawa thousands of dollars a year in exchange for the right to provide Wi-Fi at no cost to users in 25 municipal facilities.
The company will be paying the city $63,000 a year over the course of the five-year agreement, according to a city press release.
In exchange, IceNet will be allowed to advertise to people who use the facilities on small screens it will be installing.
Kalai Kalaichelvan, IceNet’s CEO, said the company is hoping to turn a profit by selling advertising on the screens to other businesses.
The company is hoping to use the free Wi-Fi to make these facilities more appealing as a place to stay and hang out. For example a parent might be more inclined to stay at a swimming pool with their child rather than simply dropping them off if there is Internet available.
“Our goal is really to change the dynamics of these facilities,” he said.
He declined to say exactly how much it would cost – IceNet is footing the bill for installing all the infrastructure as well – but said it would somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He also wouldn’t say how much revenue he expects the project will bring in, other than to say his calculations show it will be profitable.
Counc. Tim Tierney, the chair of the city’s information technology sub-committee, said this system protects the city against cost overruns that have dogged other municipalities that have tried to provide free Wi-Fi.
“They’ve racked up pretty monstrous bills so it protects the citizens and it works well,” said Mr. Tierney.
The city issued a request for proposals in March of last year requesting firms come forward with ideas for how to provide the service without directly receiving any money from taxpayers.
The company will begin installing the service in the coming months, said the press release. Free Internet will be available at all 25 facilities by July, the press release said.
Most of the locations are sports arenas and recreation complexes such as the Plant Recreation Centre and the Jim Durrell Recreation Centre. Ben Franklin Place, city hall and the ByWard Market building are also included.