Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Los Angeles to request city-wide fiber proposals

Ars Technica reports that the City of Los Angeles plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to bring fiber connectivity to every resident. The RFP is not out yet, but it sounds as though they are not looking for a retail Interent service provider, but for open infrastructure which competitors could use to offer Internet service.

The article is vague, but it seems the city envisions an open network with wholesale pricing for any one who wants to compete as a retail Internet service provider. That is reminiscent of the successful approach taken in Stockholm.

But it is also reminiscent of the thwarted desire of Congress in passing the Telecommunication Act of 1996 in the United States. The incumbent telephone and cable companies used the courts, lobbying and claims of limited facilites to kill the would-be competion.

The rumored RFP has characteristics of Google Fiber, like free or ad supported low speed connectivity for all, tiered pricing for high speed Internet, television and telephone and free or subsidized connectivity to non-profits. On the other hand, Los Angeles is said to seek business access, which Google does not allow.

Speaking of Google Fiber, they may very well have plans to go nation wide -- might they be a bidder in Los Angeles?

The article says the RFP has the support of recently elected council member Bob Blumenfield and new mayor Eric Garcetti.

I live in Los Angeles, and long ago gave up hope that Verizon would deliver their fiber service, FIOS, to my neighborhood, so am stuck with only one viable Internet service provider. (Yes, it's a monopoly). I would love to see something come of this, but seeing is believing.

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Update 7/22/2014

The city has received 34 responses to its request for information (RFI). They came from city departments as well as private companies, including my current monopoly ISP Time-Warner Cable and an optimistic report from Angie Communications, a Dutch company. The city will now take these RFIs into account in drafting a request for proposals.