Tests show free Buffalo Wi-Fi speeds vary

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)-  Parts of downtown Buffalo went wireless this summer. The public Wi-Fi network, Buffalo Connect, is designed to draw people and businesses to areas of downtown.

It’s been about two months since it was installed and it’s not hard to find people using it up and down Main St.

“I used to not use my phone when I was down here because I didn’t want to use my data,” said Mary Odrobina, at Canalside. “It’s nice to be able to sit here and listen to my music and relax, and use my phone when I want to.”

Odrobina works downtown and decided to take her breaks at Canalside after city officials launched Buffalo Connect.

In July, the city partnered with University at Buffalo and M&T Bank to create 30 hot spots to provide free internet access from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to the Erie Basin Marina.

“It’s pretty fast,” said Odrobina. “Sometimes I have to reconnect but it usually works pretty well for what I use it for, my music and the internet.”

News 4 decided to test it out using the free app, Speed Test. Downloading speeds at Canalside barely reached one megabit per second (Mbps).

The slowest downloading speed most local cable companies offer is 2 Mbps. Despite the slow speed, it seems to be working.

“The speed’s fine, I didn’t have any trouble,” said Kellie Behm, from Tonawanda. “I would imagine the more people we have trying to use it, the slower it would be so on busy days, if they have concerts down here, that’s when it would be slower.”

News 4 checked internet speeds in the theater district and found downloading speeds increased to 3 Mbps. At the medical campus, it reached 8 Mbps.

Those speeds are not always fast enough for people like Shawn Smooth, who uses it to watch movies.

“The speed is kind of slow, the signal is strong but the speed is kind of slow,” said Smooth.

We asked city officials if they’ve had many complaints since it was installed and they told News 4 it’s been quiet. If you do have a problem, call 311.

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