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Chicago's brand of muni-WiFi

Chicago is looking for proposals to build a citywide WiFi network. The Windy City joins others which are moving toward building a WiFi network of their own, among them Philadelphia and San Francisco. New Orleans, too, is using a free WiFi network to attract businesses back to the ravaged city. New Orleans got around the legal issues involved in deploying municipal networks more easily than other cities because its designation as a disaster zone made it exempt from various rules and regulations, including those governing communication.

Chicago's request for proposals was announced by the city's CIO, Chris O'Brien. Note that unlike other cities, Chicago has no interest in operating the WiFi service or investing money in it. The city's goal is to ensure that any plan for the network will be a viable alternative to DSL and cable broadband services, while at the same time being inexpensive and available across the city, including the poorer neighborhoods. Analysts see Chicago as positioning itself more as an advocate and promoter for such a WiFi service rather than a partner in providing the service, which is how most other cities have approached similar projects.

For more on Chicago's WiFi plans:
- read this report

ALSO: London's financial district will have saturated WiFi access within six months. The City of London Corp. said it entered a partnership on Thursday with The Cloud Networks, a high-speed wireless network provider with operations in the U.K., Sweden and Germany. The network will be installed in existing "street furniture," including lamp posts and signs, within the area, which is about 1 sq. mi. Demand has increased for wireless coverage as the area's 350,000 workers want access to the Internet and email as they shuffle between meetings in different buildings in the district, a spokeswoman said. The Cloud won the bid for a contract to install the network, but the value of the deal has not been disclosed, said a spokeswoman for the company. The Cloud runs WiFi hotspots at several London locations, such as Canary Wharf, the British Library and Coffee Republic, a chain of cafés. Operators such as BT Group and Nintendo rent time on The Cloud's network and then turn and charge their customers for the service. Report

PLUS: MetroWiFi is offering free WiFi in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company says its signal now reaches 178,000 of the 300,000 residents in Cupertino, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale using a network of 500 transmitters spread across 25 sq. mi. More transmitters will be added by late April, raising the population served in the three cities to 246,000. Report

FINALLY: Houston last week made public its formal request for proposals for a planned citywide WiFi network. Article

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