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August 30, 2007

Chicago Drops Expensive WiFi Project

By Raju Shanbhag, TMCnet Contributing Editor

It seems the residents of Chicago will never see the successful completion of an ambitious WiFi project dreamed up by city officials. According to a report in PC World, Chicago city officials have dropped plans to blanket the city of Chicago with an WiFi (News - Alert) network. The cost of the implementation of the project and the estimated low number of citizens who would use it were the cited reasons driving this decision.

The project was introduced with lot of fanfare as Chicago hoped to become one of the largest cities in the U.S. with blanket 228 square mile area WiFi network. The city officials had only planned to provide the basic infrastructure for the project and were in talks with the companies like EarthLink for the same.
Incidentally, EarthLink too has been facing financial problems due to the steady decline of its customer base. In fact, the entire country is witnessing a decline in customer base. EarthLink recently announced that it would cut half of its workforce to save costs.
Chicago’s chief information officer, Hardik Bhatt said in a statement that the city officials realized that they needed to re-evaluate our approach to provide universal and affordable access to high speed Internet as part of the city’s broader digital inclusion efforts. The marketplace has altered significantly in the last two years and it is now not probable for the city officials to carry on the project in a profitable manner, especially after negotiations with EarthLink reached a dead end.
Currently about 175 U.S. cities or regions have citywide or partial systems. But a large number of cities where the regional city officials were planning to introduce WiFi have closed down the plans due to increased costs and disinterest from the prospective customers. Although in countries like UK where free WiFi access is provided in some cities, serious health doubts have been raised, especially when the WiFi access points are placed near the schools.
But it’s the not the end of the world for WiFi enthusiasts in Chicago. The good folks in the Second City can still access the Internet while on the move thanks to a new WiMAX network being built by Sprint (News - Alert) Nextel.
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers whitepapers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.
Today’s Featured White paper is titled Enterprise Mobility: How to Unshackle Your Mission-Critical Applications brought to you by Motorola (News - Alert).
What’s the best resource to learn about latest trends in the IP communications industry? Why, INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO, of course. ITEXPO West 2007 is just around the corner — this year it’s being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California, Sept. 10-12. Register here. Also, follow the links to preview sessions, speakers and exhibitors.


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