Free For The Masses: Los Angeles Plans On Offering Free Wireless

Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States, is moving forward with a plan to bring fiber-based Internet access to all of its 3.5 million residents.

According to a report from Ars Technica, the LA city council voted unanimously Tuesday morning to implement a plan requiring fiber to be run to every residence, business and government entity in the city. The ambitious plan would cost $3 billion to $5 billion and would provide free Internet access of 2 Mbps and 5 Mbps — this actually exceeds the 4 Mbps speed the FCC hopes to give every American access to.

The fiber network will also offer access to speeds higher than 5 Mbps – but for a price. People would be able to purchase broadband Internet for up to a Gigabit of speed. Moreover, the fiber network will power up public WiFi hotspots.

The fiber Internet network would give broadband access to the city's nearly 2 million Hispanics. According to the U.S. Census, one-third of Americans do not have a broadband Internet connection and Hispanics are the least likely to have it. Only 45 percent of Hispanics are connected to broadband compared to 68 percent of whites, 69 percent of Asian non-Hispanics and 50 percent non-Hispanic blacks.

The city, however, is not planning to pay for it. Instead, the City Council will draft a RFP or request for proposals, which would begin the bidding process from outside vendors over the next three months, according to Ars.

The winning bidder will lay down the network.

Los Angeles Information Technology Agency general manager, Steve Reneker, told Ars people should not worry about a possible monopoly on the city's Internet. The winning vendor, he said, would have to sell access to other network providers that want to deliver fiber-based Internet.

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