Chicago issues draft RFP for citywide Wi-Fi: The city wants to invest no money, but can offer access to the usual light pole and electricity infrastructure (but not fiber) to a private partner. The RFP is being issued as a draft for the next two weeks, in an interesting review stage, will then be finalized and released, after which potential partners have 75 to 90 days to respond. (Here's the press release.) Download the PDF and take a look particularly at page 12--it has a lovely graphic showing the relationship of the bidder, the city, the utilities, community groups, and other parties.
Bidders must propose a network that reaches all residents; that provides free or low-cost access for all residents; that provides free access in public schools, parks, and public places, and that must include the kind of training and access that Wireless Philadelphia wound up negotiating in their deal with EarthLink--access to computers, access to training, access to "meaningful applications," which translates to more than email and Web surfing.
The free or low-cost access doesn't mean that the winning bidder can't charge for access. Rather, there has to be a fundamental level of no- or low-cost service, potentially only in certain places. The RFP calls for 1 Mbps symmetrical service fixed, nomadic, and mobile (up to 30mph!) purposes. It also enshrines network neutrality and nondiscriminatory wholesale access.
Chicago is 234 square miles and "sits on relatively flat land," the draft RFP says, with a 2000 census population of 2.9m people, 1.1m households, and 633K families. The contract will last 10 years.