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Los Angeles wants a citywide gigabit fiber network

Posting in Cities

Google Fiber is helping make cities like Kansas City and Provo attractive places for tech entrepreneurs.

Now Los Angeles wants to bolster its image as a tech-friendly city by building a gigabit fiber broadband network (super-fast Internet) that would connect to all of its 3.5 million-plus residents, along with every business and government entity inside L.A.'s city limits. There would be no cost for Internet service using 2-5 Mbps and the costs would scale up from there. Ars Technica reports that the city is planning to release a request for proposals next month seeking a company to take on the project.

Not surprisingly, the network is expected to be costly, anywhere from $3 billion to $5 billion. Not only that, but the winning bidder is expected to cover the costs of the massive infrastructure project.  But why would a company want to take on such a giant project and pay for it too? In theory, doing so would provide the vendor with an big advantage in a major marketplace (though not a monopoly):

[Los Angeles Information Technology Agency GM Steve] Reneker said the network would be open, meaning the vendor would have to sell access on a wholesale basis to other network providers that want to deliver services over the fiber. "We're not looking at trying to... be monopolistic and try to force anybody out of the market," he said. The winning bidder should make out well, though, as it would gain lots of new residential, business, and government customers."

Reneker also told Ars Technica that AT&T and Verizon would be compelling candidates. We'll just have to wait and see if the potential draw of more customers is compelling to these companies.

And don't expect Google to be among the bidders, even though it has completed gigabit networks in other communities. It's not likely to be a contender in this case because it doesn't currently offer the service to businesses.

Read more: Ars Technica

Photo: Flickr/Brian Hawkins

— By on November 6, 2013, 2:42 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure