City Council News

City sets Jan. 2 deadline for Wi-Fi plan proposals

By Jon Van
December 18, 2006
The City of Chicago is moving ahead with plans to establish a wireless broadband network throughout the city.
Private firms interested in building such as system, popularly called
Wi-Fi, have until Jan. 2 to submit proposals. It likely will take
months of evaluation before the city selects a vendor or negotiates a
deal.
Representatives
of several dozen vendors, including AT&T Illinois, Cisco Systems
Inc., IBM Corp., Motorola Inc. and Nortel Networks Corp., attended a
meeting held by the city in October to discuss its Wi-Fi project.
The
city recently responded to several questions about its request for
proposals, which spells out some details of what it expects from the
wireless network.
For one thing, the network's signals
should reach the perimeter rooms of more than 550,000 buildings
throughout the city. The city doesn't expect to place equipment within
buildings to boost the signals, so, presumably, someone who wanted to
log on to the Internet from deep inside his house would buy a receiver
to place near a window to relay the signal through the dwelling.
Also,
bidders can count on using some 90,000 city-owned light poles to place
their antennas. They also can use the horizontal arms holding lights
that extend out from poles owned by utility companies, but if they plan
on using utility-owned poles themselves to hold equipment, they will
need permission from the owner.
The city won't provide an
exclusive arrangement with the winning bidder, so multiple vendors of
broadband wireless are a possibility, if not a likely one.
Some
other details are spelled out, but many are not, making the request
somewhat open-ended. Who may build a wireless network and the terms of
service to be offered should become clearer sometime next year.
Copyright 2006, Chicago Tribune