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Wireless Internet Access Coming To Chicago Parks

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make Chicago one of the digital capitals of the country.

On Monday, the mayor announced plans for the city to have the greatest availability of ultra-high-speed Internet service in the world, by providing free broadband Wi-Fi service in all Chicago parks and public spaces.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the latest frontier in the push for accessible citywide Internet service was at Millennium Park, where the city kicked off its “Chicago Broadband Challenge” by turning on free Wi-Fi service on Monday.

To fulfill the goal of citywide Wi-Fi access, the Emanuel administration has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from high-tech firms for plans to expand high-speed Internet access throughout the city.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Emanuel said the infrastructure for such broadband service could be installed while the city upgrades its water mains, and many city streets.

“We will take other parts of the city. While we’re doing the roads, we’re also now going to do … through this RFP, come up with the ideas and the technology – as well as the investment – for creating the kind of, what I would call high-speed broadband through parts of the city, and to make it complete,” Emanuel said.

The effort would be years in the making, but the mayor said free high-speed Wi-Fi service is already available at Millennium Park, and will eventually come to all Chicago Park District sites.

If you have an idea to help expand broadband access to the public, check out the Broadband Challenge website.