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

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 TribuneBy Jon Van