Tuesday, July 11, 2017

testing HRM's new waterfront Public Wi-Fi ---- from end to end

If you want to fully use public Wi-Fi on the Halifax peninsular public waterfront, prepare to bring hiking shoes.

That is because there is a strong signal for over 2 kms of water walkway - from the Marriott Waterfront hotel to the start of the Seaport market area.

But on the Dartmouth side, don't blink or you will miss the Public Wi-Fi - it covers that brief an area.

professional journalists re-print press releases - citizen journalist burn shoe leather

It all began because I finally got fed up.

For days I have been reading the same bloody press release (about the coming of new public Wifi on the Halifax-Dartmouth waterfront) disguised up as "hard news" in all of our province's professional media.

I finally decided to practise a little old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism on my own account.

So I took my new iPod Touch 6, with the same quality of Wi-Fi sending and receiving as most peoples' iPhone, out on a two hour hike across the public waterfronts of both sides of Halifax Harbour this afternoon.

I set the iPod up to receive any open Wi-Fi signal going and whenever I got a good connection on the waterfront Public Wi-Fi, I sent a iMessage home to my partner to test the actual strength.

My general conclusions are that the Halifax Public Wi-Fi signal is too weak to actual send an iMessage when you are out near the water's edge - particular out on finger wharfs - no matter how many bars you see.

Still, keep taking your photo or video of activity out in the harbour --- but retreat closer to the countless hucksters trying to sell you something along the main walkway, if you actual  want to successfully send it.

(Call me hardly surprised ---- the WDC has always been first and last about mothering business interests, not securing the public interest.)

On the ferry itself, you must almost be ashore on the Halifax side before the signal is actually strong enough to send, though it appears to be strong when you are still 6 minutes out from actual docking.

Both the ferry and the Halifax ferry terminal can receive and send Wi-Fi -- if you are near a door or window.

This is because being mostly metal, they act as a Faraday Cage, soaking up all the Wi-Fi signal.

Dartmouth is a very different story

In Dartmouth, there is another very strong Faraday Cage soaking up any potential  Public Wi-Fi signal : the metal rail line running parallel to the public seaside park has steel fences on either side of it.

So the public walkway along the land side of the seaside park can't get the Public Wi-Fi until the fencing ends just where the old Dartmouth City Hall is located.

For maybe twenty metres, until you reach the door to the Dartmouth ferry terminal, you get a public Wi-Fi signal.

Once inside its instantly gone - luckily Lil MacPherson's Wooden Monkey restaurant gives a good strong open Wi-Fi signal for a bit.

It dies away as one moves into the Farmer Market area itself, luckily replaced in turn by the Alderney Landing open signal.

At the doorway to the public parking area, the Public Wi-Fi signal returns until the far end of the parking lot.

I would say over a total length of 500 metres, from the lower (Dartmouth Cove) water's edge of the waterfront public park to the upper water's edge of the Alderney Landing public parking area, about 300 metres have a strong Public Wi-Fi signal.

That compares very unfavourable with the Halifax side's 2 kms of strong signal without even mentioning that Halifax's Grand Parade area is also separately covered in Wi-Fi .

I am not suggesting that Dartmouth's  public waterfront trail, about 3.5 km in length, should have unbroken Wi-Fi coverage like Halifax's public waterfront.

But why not another single Wi-Fi point near the Woodside ferry Terminal and yet another single Wi-Fi point near the Fisherman's Cove Wharf tourist area in Eastern Passage ?

Why should taxpayers all through HRM have to pay to give public Wi-Fi to such a small area of peninsular Halifax where most of the employees, residents and visitors are already earning a good coin ?

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