Making the Most of our Broadband Moment

Illinois, and Chicago along with it, has hit its moment for broadband. A series of initiatives have laid the foundation for private and public organizations to focus on high-speed infrastructure and broadband usage. We at Broadband Illinois recently announced 14 awardees for the Broadband Innovation Fund. And we look forward to the Illinois Gigabit Challenge rolling out.

Chicago has followed suit with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago Broadband Challenge, announced on September 24. This ambitious new initiative aims to remake the digital infrastructure of the city. It aims to enhance business access to broadband in 15 designated “high-speed zones”, provide high-speed access to underserved areas, and blanket public parks with Wi-Fi. Broadband Illinois is hosting a series of webinars and stakeholder meetings to hear the perspective of those considering replying to the RFI put forth in the Chicago Broadband Challenge.   

Already one of the most connected cities, Chicago is set to be the digital hub for tech and startup entrepreneurs. Mayor Emanuel is leading a recruiting mission, along with 40 of the city's tech companies, to the University of Illinois in Urbana to encourage engineers and computer programmers to work in Chicago when they graduate -- instead of moving out of State.

Meanwhile, the Merchandise Mart's 1871 location provides a space for digital startups, educational resources and access to potential investors. Google is relocating its Motorola Mobility operations to the Merchandise Mart, bringing another 3,000 employees to downtown Chicago. Other private investors are driving innovation in Chicago as well. AT&T will have invested more than $190 million in Chicago's wired and wireless networks before the end of the year.

Broadband Illinois is working to make the Chicago Broadband Challenge and its accompanying request for information as successful as possible. Our aim is to gather everyone in the Chicagoland region who applied to the Broadband Innovation Fund, the Governor's Gigabit Communities Challenge, the Eliminate the Digital Divide fund, providers of broadband, and other economic and community development resources to discuss needs, assets, and potential responses to the City’s Request for Information.

We’ll host the second in a series of these gatherings at 10 a.m. Wednesday, October 17 at the Chicago Urban League, 4510 South Michigan Ave. The session will also be broadcast as a live webinar. Visit http://www.broadbandillinois.org/calendar/210 to see full event and registration logistics.

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Tags: chicago, chicago broadband challenge, chicago urban league, Drew Clark, Gigabit challenge, merchandise mart, webinar

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