updated 08:51 pm EDT, Mon September 24, 2012
Chicago Broadband Challenge starts with free Wi-Fi in Millenium Park
In an effort to establish Chicago as a hub for ultra-fast Internet service, Mayor Rahm Emanuel revealed a plan today to bring free Wi-Fi access to a number of public areas. Dubbed the Chicago Broadband Challenge, the new initiative will bring Wi-Fi to Chicago's parks and other public spaces. The Chicago Tribune reports that the project was meant to kick off this morning with the opening of free Wi-Fi in Millennium Park.
Mayor Emmanuel encouraged Chicago residents to provide input on the initiative through the Challenge's website, with the aim of making sure the service is customized for residents and companies. Individuals, students, companies, non-profits, and community groups are allowed to respond through the website or through formal proposals the city will be soliciting.
Emmanuel plans to build a network infrastructure capable of offering gigabit speeds, about 100 times faster than a basic cable modem. Ultra-fast connections will be reserved to commercial and industrial areas, but Emmanuel has noted that Chicago's disadvantaged neighborhoods also need faster Internet service, though he provided no details on whether the city would be moving to provide such service quickly.