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Free Wi-Fi Goes Online On North Halsted Street

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Whether your vibe is more IHOP or Yoshi’s, more Sidetrack or Town Hall Pub, you now have free wi-fi access anywhere on the Boystown strip of North Halsted Street.

The Northalsted Business Alliance announced last week that the area has become the city’s first free wi-fi neighborhood.

The free wi-fi is available on a 3/4-mile stretch of Halsted Street, from Belmont Avenue north to the street’s northern terminus at Grace Street and Broadway, Gay Chicago Magazine reported.

Coffee shops, bookstores and public libraries throughout the city offer free wi-fi access, as do smaller outdoor areas such as Daley Plaza and parts of Millennium Park. But the business alliance says no other city neighborhood has all-encompassing free wi-fi, the magazine reported.

The business group partnered with RCN to create the wi-fi network, which has 14 access points along the strip, the magazine reported.

Northalsted Business Alliance executive director Jay Lyon tells Gay Chicago Magazine that his group hopes to increase bandwidth on the network for special events such as the Gay Pride Parade and Market Days.

On your smartphone, netbook, laptop or iPad, look for “Northalsted Public Wifi” if you’re trying to connect.

At one time, the City of Chicago had planned for a municipal wi-fi service that would have been available anywhere within the city limits.

But in 2007, the city decided to scrap the program, after the city failed to reach agreement with either of two companies that sought to build a wireless Internet network in the city. The companies had sought agreements that would have required taxpayer funding.

Far west suburban Aurora also announced plans in 2005 to set up a free wi-fi network, but the plans stalled when the suburb fell into a disagreement service provider MetroFi, also over the use of taxpayer funds.

MetroFi stopped building the wi-fi network in Aurora, as well as another one in Naperville over a similar disagreement.

North suburban Skokie offers free wi-fi in its downtown area, through its village-operated SkokieLink system.

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