Testing TCONNECT at St. George Station

Last Saturday I had to do the unthinkable — join the mad throngs of holiday shoppers in downtown Toronto. On that particular afternoon it just so happened that (1) there was a snowstorm, and (2) half of the downtown subway line was shut down.

As I waited for a connection at St. George Station I suddenly remembered that there was free WiFi there. I immediately whipped out my phone, connected, and performed the mandatory speed test:

TCONNECT Speedtest

Not bad.

Some friends who are regular commuters have complained to me about how much of a pain it is to connect, but it seemed to me that the entire process took less than sixty seconds. When I again found myself at St. George Station last night, I decided to document the procedure.

Step 1 – Turn on Your WiFi

Because I usually carry a hotspot with me this step was unnecessary. If you’re one of those people who leaves your WiFi radio on all the time you probably shouldn’t — here’s why.

Step 2 – Find and Connect to the TCONNECT Network

TCONNECT WiFi Signal

In case you’re wondering, that is indeed my home network below the Rogers LTE hotspot. And yes, TCONNECT is faster than my home network!

Step 3 – Accept TCONNECT’s Terms of Service

TCONNECT ToS

This is the one fiddly bit, but if you’ve ever used WiFi in a hotel or coffee shop you’ll know what to do. If you don’t know what to do, open up your web browser and enter any link — you’ll be immediately redirected to the page you see above.

You can read TCONNECT’s ToS at your leisure right here.

Step 4 – Enjoy Free Internet

TCONNECT Connected

And just like that, you’re done. Check the time in the top-right corner of the screen grabs above, and you’ll see that I got connected in under a minute.

One thing I didn’t do is continue using the browser; instead I jumped out to let my girlfriend know I was on my way home via chat. When Mobile Syrup tested the service they reported that users had to endure a 15-30 video on the TCONNECT splash page before connecting; I didn’t.

It would be great if there was full cellular service on the entire underground portion of the TTC, including trains. Unfortunately this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I found the best explanation as to why from this story on TechVibes:

According to the TTC, Canadian carriers have “not demonstrated an eagerness” to work with the organization to bring cellular service to Toronto subway stations, despite strong demand from consumers.

Sounds like the Big Three, all right…

Back in September I wrote about cellular service in subways around the world; Thanks to TCONNECT, we can now add Toronto to the list. I think that the service at St. George is a great start, and I look forward to free WiFi being available at more stations — so long as they go easy on the ads.