With Google bringing its Google Fiber gigabit Internet service to Provo, Utah, Kansas City and Austin, Texas, (where it will battle with a gigabit service from AT&T), some other cities in America may start to feel left behind. Los Angeles has decided to take things into its own hands and will release plans to bring gigabit connectivity to every one of its residents and businesses.
With 3.5 million people in LA, the gigabit service would be one of the largest city-led broadband projects ever, and would certainly be larger than the Google Fiber or AT&T “GigaPower” networks. The goal is to lower the cost of super high-speed Internet connections to make LA a more attractive place for businesses.
The LA City Council voted unanimously to move forward with drafting a request for proposals that would require every business, residence and government entity within the city limits to be connected to a fiber-optic network, Ars Technica reported.
The LA gigabit fiber connection is expected to cost between $3 billion and $5 billion, but the city will not be paying for the project. LA Information Technology Agency General Manager Steve Reneker told Ars Technica that LA will rely on vendors interested in building the gigabit fiber network to pay for the resources needed to lay the fiber.
“If they’re not willing to do that, our city council may consider a general fund transfer to reimburse those departments, but we’re going in with the assumption that the vendor is going to absorb those up-front costs to make sure they can do their buildout in a timely fashion,” Reneker said. He added that LA is not requiring plans to include telephone or television connections, but that most interested vendors probably would to justify the costs.
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LA is also hoping for a vendor that can provide cellular service and data center hosting, meaning AT&T and Verizon could be potential candidates. LA is hoping to modernize its data centers and would be interested in paying the fiber network provider to handle these needs.
The plan is to offer free Internet access up to 5Mbps and offer paid tiers up to a gigabit. The free connections could possibly include advertising, and the fiber network will also provide Wi-Fi in public areas. The city of Los Angeles also wants vendors to ensure that low-income families will be able to access the fiber network and hopes the winning vendor will donate computer equipment to residents in need.
The LA city council will examine the draft in a few weeks and vote again on whether or not to release the request. It will then consider proposals for three months, and negotiations with the winning vendor could take another six to nine months.