Chicago Adds Free Wi-Fi to Five City Beaches
Along with sun, sand and water, add Wi-Fi to the list of free things at some of Chicago's most popular beaches.
Free Wi-Fi access will be available starting today (July 19) at Osterman, Foster, Montrose, North Avenue and Rainbow beaches. Chicago-based broadband provider Everywhere Wireless LLC set up the networks, using gear donated by Cisco Systems Inc., Crain's Chicago Business reported.
“We built it over the last 60 days,” says Collin DeMeritt, head of business development at Everywhere Wireless LLC, a four-year-old company in River North that provides broadband service to multifamily buildings using microwave. “The concept is to give something back to the community and build up the infrastructure for the city.”
Cisco donated $75,000 to $100,000 worth of equipment, primarily wireless access points.
The city is trying to expand broadband access across the city as part of an economic development strategy. Last fall, Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered up access to city-owned fiber-optic lines and rights of way, such as sewer and water easements, for companies willing to expand low-cost broadband to businesses and residences in underserved areas. Part of the “broadband challenge” also involves providing free Wi-Fi to the city's parks, starting with Millennium Park last fall.
“In the coming months, we will build off of this initiative (at the beaches) and the free Wi-Fi offered in Millennium Park by identifying additional partners and public spaces for free Wi-Fi services,” a City Hall spokesman says.
DeMerritt says, “We'd love to be able to expand this to all the beaches,” though Everywhere Wireless doesn't have any firm plans for other locations.