Chicago Plans Gigabit Network, Tech Firms Commit to 2,000 Jobs

    Though the Chicago newspapers continue to give Mayor Rahm Emanuel grief for his “public relations games,” the tech news continues to flow out of the Windy City.

    Emanuel on Monday announced an initiative to install Wi-Fi in many city parks and provide a superhigh-speed “gigabit” network for business users in 15 commercial corridors to attract more business to the city.

    The Chicago Tribune quotes John Tolva, the city’s chief technology officer, as saying:

    The technological landscape has changed to the point where it’s not a nice-to-have. This is as vital as clean drinking water, at least to the economic life of a city.

    The city released a request for information to potential partners, but provided few details on how such a network would be built. The story says it appears that private-sector players, universities and other groups would do most of the work and foot much of the bill.

    Though gigabit speeds are available to businesses, that service can cost more than $3,500 a month. The new plan would greatly reduce that cost, the story says. Tolva said the build-out could be completed in two and a half years.

    Emanuel has claimed much of the credit for drawing tech jobs into the city, including enticing Motorola Mobility to move downtown rather than to California after its buyout by Google. On Monday, he announced that 21 Chicago-based technology companies have committed to creating more than 2,000 jobs by 2015, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

    Among them are mobile-food-ordering firm GrubHub, which will add 250 positions; BenchPrep, an education firm (300 jobs); kCura, an electronic evidence company (150 to 300 jobs); and Networked Insights, a marketing-analysis company (120 to 140 jobs).

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