Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 6:50am
WI-FI FIGHT IN CHICAGO AIR
[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune 4/20, AUTHOR: Jon Van]
A digital wireless future is shaping up for Chicago, with two major Internet service providers -- AT&T and EarthLink -- vying to build a municipal broadband network that would operate alongside a higher-end service planned by Sprint Nextel. Both the service proposed by AT&T and EarthLink and the one planned by Sprint Nextel would give computer users in the city wireless Internet access, whether at home, in the office or on the street, but the technology and purpose of the two systems are somewhat different. The Tribune has learned that AT&T Inc. and EarthLink Inc. are in a competition to build a wireless network using Wi-Fi technology, and both have made written and oral proposals to the city and Hardik Bhatt, the city's chief information officer. A spokeswoman said the city is making progress in reviewing the proposals, but Bhatt declined to estimate when a decision might be made. Separately, Sprint Nextel Corp. has selected Chicago as the location for one of its first WiMax wireless broadband networks, which should be in place by the end of the year. WiMax would use powerful technology to envelop the city in a wireless signal capable of giving users Internet access in buildings, on the street or in traveling vehicles. The signal travels for miles. By contrast, a Wi-Fi signal travels for blocks and wouldn't work, for example, in a moving car. But even so, executives at AT&T and EarthLink said their firms' enthusiasm for building a municipal broadband network in the city is undiminished.
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