In an eyebrow-raisingly ambitious move, Los Angeles is set to embark on a project to provide fiber-based internet to all 3.5 million of its residents and businesses – for free. The initial plan is to deliver city-wide speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 5Mbps, as well as offer paid access of up to a gigabit. The city is looking to publish an RFP (request for proposal) for the project next month, with overall costs expected to be somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billion.
The city, however, is not expecting to foot the bill, but will be looking to vendors instead. “The city is going into it and writing the agreement, basically saying, ‘we have no additional funding for this effort.’” said LA Information Technology Agency GM Steve Reneger. “We’re requiring the vendors that respond to pay for the city resources needed to expedite any permitting and inspection associated with laying their fiber.” Whilst he expects whoever claims the RFP to provide additional TV and telephone service, Reneker says they won’t be required to. “I would think that’s how they’ll justify the buildout, is being able to offer triple play [packages].”
The move is designed to attract more businesses to the LA area, with the RFP looking to favor companies that can offer cellular service and data center hosting alongside fiber internet. This leaves Google Fiber out of the plan, as Google is only looking to offer the plan to residential customers rather than business. Should Google change its business model, it has three months to submit its bid. After a six- to nine-month review LA will choose its vendor, before beginning negotations.