Tantus to launch 500 free hotspots in Chicago

Privately held wireless provider Tantus Networks plans to launch over 500 free WiFi hotspots in downtown Chicago and surrounding areas. The service, named WiFlux, will be free to end users and operators of the hotspot venues. Tantus plans to fund WiFlux services through its AdFlux division, which sells location-based ads. Tantus also operates a wireless service for hotels called InnFlux, which has deployments in over 350 hotels.

Tantus' move into the free WiFi arena follows Philadelphia's choice of EarthLink last week for its subsidized city-wide WiFi service and Google's recent offer to blanket San Francisco with free WiFi. The muni-WiFi trend has prompted Verizon Wireless to defend its market dominance. Verizon's TV commercials warn Philadelphia residents "not to get caught in a not-so-hotspot," leading many to safely assume that Philadelphia has woken at least one ISP giant.

For more on Tantus' Chicago WiFi plan:
- scroll through this press release