CHICAGO
09/24/2012 12:45 pm ET

Chicago's Free Wi-Fi Plan Kicks Off With Public-Access Internet Service In Millennium Park (VIDEO)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a plan to blanket Chicago's public spaces with free wireless internet service this week.

Emanuel kicked off the initiative, called the "Chicago Broadband Challenge," in Millennium Park Monday.

"Chicago will be one of the most connected cities in the world," Emanuel said Monday at the downtown park, where free Wi-Fi service is now available, according to the Chicago Tribune. "The establishment of a world-class broadband network in Chicago will create thousands of jobs and dramatically improve educational opportunities, economic development, health care services, and general quality of life throughout the city."

The broadband challenge aims to eventually provide free wireless internet in all city parks and open spaces, CBS Chicago reports. The city is currently soliciting ideas for expanding the city's digital infrastructure, which Emanuel lauded as a job-creation measure.

To fund the Wi-Fi service, the city is seeking private partners like SilverIP Communications, which is backing the Millennium Park project, by leveraging existing infrastructure like unused fiber lines in CTA subway tubes, light poles and more, according to Crain's Chicago Business. Neighborhoods being targeted for free service include Loyola and DePaul Universities, the Illinois Medical District, the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor and more.

Mayor Daley spearheaded a similar initiative in 2006, but the idea never generated the necessary traction, Fox Chicago reports.

How will free access to wireless internet impact Chicago? Share your thoughts in the comments:

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