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Chicago Mayor Creates Challenge for Local Technology Businesses

February 18, 2014

Chicago Mayor Creates Challenge for Local Technology Businesses

By Monica Gleberman
Contributing Writer

It’s seems as if every city its trying to beat out the other for the latest in technology. In hopes of spurring up more innovation, creativity, and tourists, the mayor of Chicago plans on bringing in heavy equipment to create a new set of innovation zones.

Two years ago, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, began a mission he called the “Chicago Broadband Challenge” where he invited companies to use whatever tools they had on hand to help create a cost efficient way to bring high-speed Internet to the town at a low cost. The company that came up with the best proposal would partner with the city and get the bid for the technology.

Emanuel said he was looking for anything from using city light poles, fiber technology, and even taking advantage of freight tunnels and sewers if it meant providing a lightning fast speed Internet to its residents.

Emanuel split up the town into four zones: the University of Chicago, the U. of C. Medical Center, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Bronzeville, the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor, and the Pullman Industrial Corridor. After announcing the four zones, he is leaving the rest up to the city.

“The city’s goal is to make available gigabit- or near-gigabit-speed broadband service at prices that represent a substantial reduction from current ... prices” that range from $1,000 to $5,000 a month in Chicago, the request for qualifications states said Emanuel.

Additionally, another project that the mayor threw out to inventors was to create a broadband network service solution for more than 400 city offices that use Internet access remotely. Currently, the city spends over $2 million for the data and could take advantage of some new technology to reduce its footprint.

Once a proposal is chosen, the winning company will not only partner with the city, but will receive a sizable share of the revenues and would be in-charge of maintaining the entire city’s broadband and Internet service. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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