It’s hard to miss the signs of a major boom in the buzz about the city’s newest, and most ambitious, initiative to connect the city with its neighbors.
“I can’t even say how excited I am to be able to talk to my friends and families across the world,” said Shari LeBlanc, a 22-year-old graduate student at the University of Illinois.
“But I am also worried about people in the Midwest not having access to the internet.”
That’s because Chicago, like many major cities in the U.S., has some of the world’s most restrictive broadband policies.
That means that many of the most popular Internet service providers have been slow to roll out their networks, limiting the number of connections they can offer.
But some experts believe that can be changing.
A study from the University Of Illinois’ College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) released Tuesday said the city should be able connect people with the most data quickly to new services faster than many people in other parts of the country.
The study examined what could happen if Chicago’s citywide network of fiber-optic cables was expanded to more than 3,000 homes and businesses.
“This will be a game changer,” said Cee Lozano, the dean of CEAS.
“It will open up the door to a lot of other opportunities.”
Lozano was among a team of researchers who recently visited Chicago to study the citys fiber-to-the-home program.
She said she and other city residents have been discussing the idea for a while.
“I’m really excited,” she said.
“This is a great opportunity for our city to move forward.”
The study looked at how the city could connect people to services at speeds faster than a typical home can get, which is how it can offer more than 1 gigabit of data per second.
That speed would allow people to access some services at home or while in school.
It would also make it possible for them to get high-speed Internet in places that would normally require high-capacity connections.
The researchers compared data speeds for those in the city and in other cities with similar populations and found that they could easily get 1.5 to 3 gigabytes of data on a single connection.
That’s still not enough for most people, but it would be faster than the average speed of 1 gigabyte per second, the researchers found.
That’s a significant improvement over Chicago’s existing broadband service, which currently has speeds of about 3 megabits per second in a typical area.
“We think that people will be able more quickly access the internet,” said Matt Johnson, the principal scientist for CEAS and a graduate student in the CEAS lab.
“That will really enable the city to really make use of the technology that it has now,” he said.
Chicagoans who can’t access the Internet have been frustrated by slow speeds, high prices and other obstacles that have slowed down the rollout of their Internet plans.
Those obstacles include not being able to sign up for a service before the end of the year, which limits how much they can afford.
Some of those obstacles have been overcome in other places.
New York City’s fiber-coaxial network is getting more and more reliable as more people get connected, according to the city.
And last month, a judge in New York State ruled that the city cannot force companies to build fiber-based networks.
But the city has been slow on its rollout, and officials in Chicago are pushing ahead anyway.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t go for it,” said Joelle Smith, who was part of the CEES team that conducted the study.
Smith said she hopes that Chicagoans can get a sense of what it’s like to live in a city with no connection to the Internet.
“One of the things we really wanted to do was get a real sense of how people are actually accessing the internet and the things that they’re doing,” she added.