Free wireless in Chicago takes another step toward reality

There are few cities in the country that have been more active in pushing further into the digital age than Chicago. In an ploy to turn the city into a hub of business, city officials have been visiting local universities to entice IT students to stay in the area following graduation. Recently the city’s latest plan took its next step towards actualization.

It was announced in September by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the city would be providing free, high-speed broadband internet in a number of places including public parks, universities and select neighborhoods.

“Chicago will be one of the most connected cities in the world,” said Emanuel during the initial announcement.”The establishment of a world-class broadband network in Chicago will create thousands of jobs and dramatically improve educational opportunities, economic development, healthcare services, and general quality of life throughout the city.”

Now, the deadline for companies to toss their hat in the ring to take on the project has passed. According to a report from Crain’s Chicago Business, 24 organizations submitted a plan. Officials reported that they were happy with not only the turnout, but also the quality of the submissions.

On top of that, they also offered a glimpse into what kinds of plans were offered. One involved using the city’s light posts to hang fiber optic cables, which would speed up the permitting process. Others involved using the transit tunnels and sewer lines to deliver the free Wi-Fi where it needs to go.

There is no timetable for a decision, but the interest shows the importance of wireless internet to today’s businesses. IT consulting firms can help companies of any size ensure they are getting the most out of their setup.

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