Chicago residents and visitors will soon be able to access free Wi-Fi while hanging out at Garfield Park and the South Shore Cultural Center, thanks to the city’s new three-year agreement with Google (News - Alert).
Google will fund the infrastructure build-out and monthly maintenance costs. However, the company stands to benefit from a larger population of Internet-connected users, which potentially will generate more advertising revenue for Google.
The agreement is part of the Chicago Broadband city initiative. Under the initiative, the city of Chicago is seeking to engage private companies, universities and other organizations to build broadband infrastructure for the city; extend broadband service into underserved areas; and provide free Wi-Fi access in public spaces throughout Chicago.
Providing free public Wi-Fi "is core to our mission, to make the world's information universally accessible by enabling more people to get online," Jim Lecinski, the head of Google's Chicago office, said in a statement.
Garfield Park and the South Shore Cultural Center are two of Chicago’s busiest parks. In other key areas around the city, Millennium Park offers free Wi-Fi through an agreement with Chicago-based Silver Communications, which installed the system in September 2012.
Additionally, Cisco (News - Alert) and Chicago-based Everywhere Wireless partnered with the city to provide free Wi-Fi at five city beaches as part of a pilot program. The Chicago Park District and Everywhere Wireless "will consider continuing at the current locations" or setting up networks at other beaches, depending on how the pilot goes, according to city officials.
“Chicago will be one of the most connected cities in the world,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The establishment of a world-class broadband network in Chicago will create thousands of jobs and dramatically improve educational opportunities, economic development, health care services and general quality of life throughout the city. We will rely on the ideas and efforts of Chicagoans to not only build this network, but make sure it is customized for our residents and our workforce.”
Edited by Rory J. Thompson