The Toronto Public Library and Google Want to Give You the Ability to ‘Check-Out’ WiFi

Toronto Public Library has teamed up with Google to allow Torontonians to “check out” wireless internet.

The initiative will offer portable WiFi hotspots that will be loaned out for up to six months at a time. The goal is to offer internet access to those who can’t afford it. As such, each of the six library branches to offer the service will be located in low-income neighbourhoods.

“Google hopes to give some of the most underserved in our city a way to bridge the tech divide,” the company said in a news release. Google says the hot spots represent a simple and effective way to get people online. Providing users with 10 gigabytes of data per month, the hotspots offer a way for people to search for jobs, browse health and wellness platforms, and keep in touch with family members living elsewhere (this is especially beneficial for recent refugees).

Canada’s loudest voices in the movement to eradicate poverty have been calling for cheaper home internet, highlighting that virtually everything in life is moving online.

Despite this, a recent Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) survey found that 11 per cent of Canadian respondents had no home internet service.

The Affordable Access Coalition, a group formed to lobby the government on affordable internet access, says a broadband connection is a basic telecommunications service akin to having a home telephone line. As such, funding should be provided to ensure the service is available to everyone. That’s why this initiative marks such a positive step in the right direction when it comes to offering the city’s most vulnerable the tools they need to get ahead.

Toronto Mayor John Tory will join representatives from Google Canada today to launch the program at the Toronto Public Library’s Thorncliffe branch.