Los Angeles is planning to roll out fiber-based Internet to every residence, business and government entity within the city limits. The network, which would also power public Wi-Fi hotspots, is expected to provide free Internet access to anyone at 2-5 Mbps speed (probably subsidized by advertising) and of course, high speed paid access plans of up to a gigabit for those who need and can afford a faster connection.

The city council has unanimously decided to move ahead and draft an RFP (request for proposals) for the ambitious project. Once the RFP is issued, bids would be accepted for the next three months. The cost of the project is expected to be around $3-$5 billion and would be borne by the winning bidder. Additionally, in order to make sure that nobody is forced out of market, Los Angeles wants the selected vendor to sell access to other fiber service providers on a wholesale basis.

The project seems to be part of broader strategic IT plan as the RFP would favor companies that can provide data center hosting and cellular services in addition to fiber internet. This makes AT&T and Verizon the front runners among the lot that includes Cox, Charter and Time Warner.

Google fiber will not be considered in its current form as their business model currently focuses only on residential customers, not businesses. "They would have to change their business model", LA Information Technology Agency GM, Steve Reneker, told ArsTechnica.

With a third of city population earning less than $45,000 a year and schools rolling out iPads for students, it's becoming increasingly important to provide Internet service to city residents at affordable rates, Reneker said.

Image via LA Times