Chicago is starting plans to have a Wi-Fi network built across its nearly 230 square miles: The city's CIO said companies will be asked to talk about how they might build the network, which sounds like an RFI (request for information) rather than a more concrete RFP (request for proposals). The CIO said quite firmly that no city money would be involved in building or operating the metro-scale network.
Oddly, Steven Titch of the Heartland Institute, a perennial opponent to the construction of municipal telecom, is quoted as being in favor of this approach. It's possible there's a subtlety missing in his quote, or that the institute has moved to supporting cities that are essentially franchising the building of wireless networks. But this jibes with the statement earlier this week by the CTIA, the cell industry trade group, that it's not opposed to these kinds of networks, either, as their members might bid on them. Update: Titch confirms (see comments below) that his views are accurately represented and notes there's no connection with the CTIA statement. He also points readers to reason.org for more on the franchised city-wide network topic.
One commentator noted that if you stop calling a municipally requested network a "municipal network" and call it something else, like metro-scale or city-wide, you suddenly remove the notion that the city is controlling or funding it. That semantic change may be significant.
The RFI or RFP will be issued in spring with recommendations for the mayor and city council before fall.