Last updated: July 23, 2020 at 5:02 p.m.

While the City encourages Torontonians to stay home as much as possible, people who cannot afford home internet face barriers to receiving public health information, pandemic support services, emergency income supports and have difficulty staying connected to family and friends.

To help extend free internet to low-income neighbourhoods, the City received generous donations to help connect 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods with temporary free internet access for one year.

The pilot project is currently limited to a maximum of 25 locations, with no further locations being considered at this time. Buildings identified for this service are based on the size and location of the building, proportion of low-income residents and other socio-economic indicators, and technology feasibility.

Limitations of the Wi-Fi signal

  • The objective of providing free Wi-Fi is to provide enough coverage and strength to enable residents to read news, submit online forms, use basic web browsing and messenger apps. The Wi-Fi service is optimized for this particular use.
  • The service is not designed to support streaming media/games (i.e. Netflix) or large file downloads. While such services are not blocked, bandwidth management is in place to improve the user experience for all users. Due to this bandwidth management, users may see a reduction in image quality when attempting to stream video.

Connecting to Wi-Fi

The objective of the Wi-Fi Pilot Project is to extend the signal into every unit in each building. However, signal coverage will vary by building. Within each building, it is possible that signal strength may vary from floor-to-floor. It may not be technically feasible to extend the Wi-Fi signal into every unit.

Residents may need to move around their unit or to a different area of the building (such as a hallway, outdoor carpark or seating area) to obtain a signal, remembering to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Some factors that influence signal strength and reach include: building height, construction material, ease of access to install hardware and distance between routers.

If you are having issues connecting, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Select toronto.ca/wifi in your device’s network settings to connect to the free Wi-Fi. If you get a notification to sign in or join, tap the network name (toronto.ca/wifi)
    • If toronto.ca/wifi is not visible on your network settings:
      • Restart your computer or device
      • Turn Wi-Fi off and then on again
      • Move to a different area of the building and try again (if your device is portable)
    • Move your device around the building to see if signal strength improves in another area
    • Check with a neighbour to see if they have a signal
    • Contact your device manufacturer for support

Donations Supporting the Free Wi-Fi Project

Donations are helping connect 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods with temporary free internet access for one year. These donations included:

  • hundreds of permanent mobile access point hardware and contribution of fees for some internet circuits from Cisco Canada
  • service management and maintenance from OnX Canada
  • fibre and hosting of core infrastructure from BAI Canada
  • fibre and single point of presence for internet from Beanfield Metroconnect
  • volunteer labour provided by the civic tech community
  • free Wi-Fi access in up to 10 of the low-income buildings for six months, including installation and project management fees, from Bell Canada
  • cinder block seconds required for rooftop antennae ballast from Century Concrete Products
  • engineering services (design and approval for non-penetrating rooftop mounts) from Southwinds Engineering Inc.

Other Options for Wi-Fi

  • Access free Wi-Fi from other public locations if you are able to physically distance yourself:
    • Toronto Public Libraries  (some libraries remain closed, however Wi-Fi signals have not been turned off. In many instances, the signal extends to the exterior of the library).
    • TTC Subway stations
    • GO train stations
    • Shaw Go Wi-Fi hotspots
  • If you live in social or affordable housing, you may be eligible for the Rogers Connected for Success program – for $9.99 a month, plus tax, it includes up to 25 Mbps download speed/5 Mbps upload speed; up to 100GB monthly with no over usage fees