Los Angeles planning to bring free, fiber-based internet to its 3.5 million residents

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This year has already brought Google Fiber announcements to Provo, UT and Austin, TX — and AT&T has plans to try and keep up with Google as well. Now, it looks like Los Angeles is getting involved in the fiber-based internet game with a massively ambitious project to bring fiber to all of its 3.5 million residents and businesses. According to a report from Ars Technica, the city wants all of its residents to have free access to this network, with speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 5Mbps; that free tier might possibly be subsidized by advertising. Additionally, paid tiers will offers speeds of up to one Gigabit. The city will issue an RFP (request for proposal) for this ambitious project next month, with the buildout estimated to cost somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billion.

Los Angeles, however, will not be footing the bill for this rollout. "The city is going into it and writing the agreement, basically saying, 'we have no additional funding for this effort.' 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," said Los Angeles Information Technology Agency GM Steve Reneker. He also said it was likely that whoever wins the RFP will likely build out TV and telephone service, as well, though they won't be required to. "I would think that's how they'll justify the buildout, is being able to offer triple play]," Reneker said.

Additionally, Los Angeles wants the network to be open, with the vendor selling access wholesale to other providers, who would then sell to customers. "We're not looking at trying to... be monopolistic and try to force anybody out of the market," Reneker said. Regardless of who ends up selling the service, Google Fiber isn't an option to win the contract in its current form — the service right now only is offered to residential customers, not businesses. Of course, Google could change its current business model if it wants to get in on this massive buildout for Los Angeles. The city plans to accept bids for three months, and then expects a lengthly six- to nine-month review and negotiation process before the job can get started.

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