Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Who needs Google Fiber? LA plans own fiber-based gigabit broadband network

Los Angeles wants fiber Internet for its businesses, and although Google Fiber is an attractive possibility, by design it's out of the running. Google only runs fiber for residences, and although the company continues to expand, this would be a whole new market for them. As Los Angeles Information Technology Agency GM Steve Reneker told Ars Technica Tuesday,
They would have to change their business model. They only run residential. We're requiring a component for the business. That would be a new market for them.
In addition, Los Angeles will issue an RFP (request for proposals) next month, which is not something Google has responded to previously. Reneker added:
There are two things: would they be willing to change their model slightly, and also would they be willing to respond to an RFP? I don't believe they've responded to RFPs in the past in other communities, but they would need to here in Los Angeles.
While Los Angeles doesn't expect the fiber buildout to be cheap -- it is estimated that it will cost between $3 billion and $5 billion -- the cost would not be borne by taxpayers, but instead by the vendor. Reneker said:
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.

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.

The new fiber network would offer free Internet access of 2Mbps to 5Mbps (possibly subsidized by advertising) and paid tiers of up to a gigabit. The fiber network would also power Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas.

The new network would offer free Internet access with speeds between 2Mbps to 5Mbps -- slow compared to some offerings, but don't look a gift horse in the mouth. It's possible those tiers will be subsidized by advertising, with paid tiers running up to a gigabit in speed. The network would also be used to provide WiFi hotspots in public areas.

Although not a requirement of the RFP, it's expected that the vendor would offer triple play packages to subscribers. After all, if you have broadband with Vendor X, why not have phone service and television, too?

Nothing will be done right away. The City Council just approved the plans on Tuesday morning, and after a few weeks to generate the RFP, will review it. Once it goes live, the city will accept bids for three months, after which it will review bids (as well as negotiate) for six- to nine-months before the project can begin.



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