Chicago, IL —
Visitors to Boystown can now stay connected with their smartphone, laptop or any other internet-friendly device and surf the net for free courtesy the Northalsted Business Alliance (NBA).
"Quick and easy connection for just about anything you can imagine is fully accessible now in all of Northalsted," said Jim Ludwig, owner of Roscoe's and president of the Triangle Neighbors neighborhood association.
The free WiFi covers the popular entertainment strip of North Halsted known as Boystown from Belmont Avenue to Grace Street, plus Broadway between Grace and Irving Park.
NBA plans to officially announce the free service, which went live last week, at a kick-off event to be announced.
"The word's spread a little faster than we intended," joked NBA Executive Director Jay Lyon when ChicagoPride.com contacted him on Friday.
ChicagoPride.com was alerted to the free access when readers noticed "Northalsted Public WiFi" on their devices.
"With the prevalence of sites like Facebook and Twitter, this gives us the ability to stay constantly connected to what's happening and where to go," said Shawn Hazen, Roscoe's promotion and marketing manager. "Having the WiFi gives us even more access to these sites and even sites such as ChicagoPride.com."
Fourteen access points, which were installed by RCN, provide the signal throughout the Halsted corridor. When the service was flipped on, Boystown became Chicago's first neighborhood with free WiFi.
"This community once again is leading the way into the future and making the absolute latest innovations for all of Chicago," said Ludwig. "We are very thankful to the Mayor and the Department of Innovation and Technology for their expert guidance and support."
The city plans similar open-access WiFi zones in the future.
According to Lyons, this system was also attractive to the Northalsted Business Alliance
"because of the great number of visitors we get from out of town."
The Northalsted Business Alliance
hosts two of the city's most popular events, Chicago Pride Fest® and Northalsted Market Days®, which bring thousands of people to Boystown each year. NBA plans to increase the WiFi capacity during these events and for the annual Pride Parade in June.
Access to the free service is now available by connecting a WiFi-capable device to "Northalsted Public WiFi." Adjustments in the service area and additional tweaks will be made as the system is being tested prior to the official launch.