The problem is that the service has depended on transponders located in individual storefront windows and not all locations have the devices.
“The system’s not perfect because of the sporadic placement so you do get dead zones” Ryan Smith, owner of Pause Café at 74 Chatham St. W. said.
Smith said there are certain reasons why transponders are not placed evenly, thereby providing consistent coverage.
One is natural gaps in storefronts due to alleys or parking lots or larger institutional buildings.
It’s not as good as we’d like but we had to play with the hand we were dealt,” Smith, a DWBIA board member, said. “But for a free service you could give it a B+.”
Elizabeth Squares, a barista at Booster Juice, 32 University Ave. E., called the system, “fantastic,” saying it’s “easy to connect personally and I’m downtown all the time.”
Squires said the signal is especially strong around the University and Ouellette intersection.
But she said a little distance away the signal can be weaker.
“I frequent the Loop (night club at Chatham and Ferry streets) every weekend, I can’t pick it up (but) I’ve picked it up at Milk Coffee Bar (68 University Ave W.),” she said.
“I feel like when you get further away it’s really not that easy.”
Shawn Cousineau at Rogues Gallery Comics, 327 Chatham St. W., said the signal where he is, across from the bus station, is “really weak” or non-existent.
Nick Angelini at Dr. Disc records, 471 Ouellette Ave. said his shop doesn’t use the free wi fi because it needs faster upload speeds.
“Not that (the public wi fi) wasn’t fast, I use it on my phone sometimes…..I use it when I’m at a downtown location when I need to get on the Internet quickly,” he said.
Shelley Sharpe, spokeswoman for the Windsor Symphony, said there were problems accessing the free wi fi from the Capitol Theatre, 121 University Ave. W., when the symphony first moved into the building last year.
“We don’t know if the problems were related to the building because even our own signals need boosters….or if it was because of the system itself,” she said.
The WSO has installed its own system but even that occasionally needs boosters depending on where a signal is needed such as on the Pentastar main stage or in the “bowels” of the building, Sharpe said.
She said the Capitol’s system is not for public use at least at this point.
But Horwitz said the DWBIA has now been approved by the city and Enwin to have transponders placed on hydro poles so there will be consistent range and signal strength.
He said between $30-$60,000 of DWBIA funds has been set aside for the project.
Horwitz said this should also “expand it within our (official DWBIA) borders.”
He said there was unanimous approval by business owners when the current wi fi was first set up two years ago and the new spending has also been approved.
He said gaps in service sometimes happen because businesses move or close and there is no longer a transponder in the window.
“Sometimes it disappears from a small area and then we have to look to replace it,” Horwitz said.