City of Los Angeles Community Broadband Network (LACBN)
The LACBN is part of a City-wide project designed to make “broadband” available in all areas of Los Angeles at speeds comparable to other innovative communities around the world. The project is intended to:
- Ensure that every home and every business in Los Angeles can be served by an advanced communications network that will provide a high-speed, high quality broadband connection to the Internet.
- Ensure that areas of the City that are currently underserved are promptly served.
- Ensure that the City is served by an open network, so no one is prevented or blocked from taking full advantage of the Internet’s capabilities; and
- Ensure that every Angeleno can enjoy the benefits of broadband, regardless of income or the area in which they reside.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Bob Blumenfield call for responses from industry leaders to help provide input into the LACBN Initiative. The feedback will inform the elected officials in the city on the best strategy and direction for providing and delivering high speed broadband services. (Read more)
High-speed and affordable broadband access to the Internet is essential to the City’s and Nation’s global competitiveness. It drives job creation, promotes innovation, expands markets for American businesses, and supports improved education, health care, and public safety. Los Angeles has many competitive advantages. It is home to a burgeoning tech industry with the emergence of Silicon Beach and is ranked as one of the top start-up friendly ecosystems in the world. Los Angeles was also ranked as the city with the highest entrepreneurial activity rate in the nation with 580 entrepreneurs per 100,000 adults. The City is also the small business capital of the nation with the most small businesses in our region.1 Los Angeles has plenty of entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, great local colleges and universities and the entertainment industry.
Today, however, too many areas in Los Angeles still lack adequate access to an advance broadband network that can provide crucial connectivity.
In many cities nationally and internationally, Internet access is available to residences at speeds up to 1 Gbps – speeds that allow users to transmit and receive information nearly 200 times faster than from residences in Los Angeles – at the same or at a lower price than Angelenos pay for inferior service.2 A recent study3 by the federal government General Office of Accounting showed that in communities with broadband networks, small business reported that that they could operate and compete more effectively. The Internet has become an essential utility like water, power and gas. The GAO study reports that communities that have deployed advanced networks are more attractive to businesses and to potential residents.
While some parts of Los Angeles do have access to high-speed broadband, more than 35% of all Angelenos either do not have access to broadband or cannot afford it.4 Our Los Angeles Unified School District is taking steps to modernize our education system through the deployment of electronic text books on tablet computers. However, it is projected that 35% of all students do not have access to broadband at home, which will inhibit those students from being able to do their homework and studies in the safety of their home.5
Many households still use universal service telephone lines for dial-up access to the internet to get basic e-mail and minimal internet services. While these households are connected, they are unable to enjoy the full benefits of high-speed broadband. Many people can now use mobile devices like cell phones to access the Internet, but commercial cell services available today are not typically priced or useable as a true substitute for the connectivity offered by the advanced networks being deployed in other communities.
1 See Mayor Garcetti's webpage on "harnessing technology" http://www.ericgarcetti.com/tech (last accessed April 14, 2014), which also has a link to The Startup Ecosystem Report 2012 http://blog.startupcompass.co/pages/entrepreneurship-ecosystem-report (last accessed April 14, 2014)
2 See for example, Chattanooga, Tennessee's Gigabit service offerings, http://chattanoogagig.com/ (last accessed April 14, 2014)
3 U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Telecommunications: Federal Broadband Deployment Programs and Small Business", GAO-14-203, (rel. March 10, 2014): http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-203 (last accessed April 14, 2014); small business benefits are also discussed on the Chattanooga website: https://epbfi.com/business/ (last accessed April 14, 2014)
4 Public Policy Institute of California, "California's Digital Divide", (June 2013) http://www.ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=263 (last accessed April 14, 2014)
5 Id. See also K. Zickuhr and A. Smith, "Home Broadband 2013", PEW Research Internet Project Report (Aug. 26, 2013), http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/08/26/home-broadband-2013/ (last accessed April 14, 2014)
1. The City of Los Angeles wants to be the location of choice for businesses and residents – to attract businesses with good paying jobs, to entice graduates from our local universities to reside and work in Los Angeles, and to ensure the City remains a center for the digital economy.
Through the LACBN project, the City intends to encourage rapid deployment of a network or networks that can deliver world-class broadband Internet access – at speeds 1Gbps or higher - to all residences, multi-unit dwellings, and businesses through wireline and wireless connections. Ideally, the network(s) will provide fiber to the home or business, but will also ensure that WiFi is available ubiquitously in all developed areas within the City of Los Angeles.
2. The City of Los Angeles wants to ensure that every resident has access to basic broadband.
The concept of Universal Service began in 1837 with the postal service and sustained itself with the creation of the postage stamp. In 1907, the U.S. recognized the importance of ensuring that basic telephone service be available universally, and the federal Communications Act of 1934 recognized the importance of ensuring that telephone service be available to all citizens at reasonable charges.6 Telephone Universal Service programs have made basic telephone service available everywhere to everyone. In 2009 President Barack Obama noted that “one key to strengthening education, entrepreneurship, and innovation in communities...is to harness the full power of the Internet, and that means faster and more widely available broadband.”7 However, while there are many programs designed to encourage broadband deployment, and to allow schools and libraries to obtain less expensive access to the Internet, the United States still has not fully developed a true Broadband Universal Service that can ensure broadband Internet access is available to all citizens, as have other countries like Switzerland, Finland, Taiwan and Britain.
As the world relies more and more on Internet based systems for work, education, hiring, training, and for daily interactions with government and other community institutions, it becomes more critical to address disparities in Internet availability. In the absence of a national plan to ensure Broadband Universal Service, it is important for the City to ensure, to the extent possible, that basic levels of broadband access are available to every Angeleno regardless of income. As part of the LACBN project, the City will seek commitments that a basic level of service is actually available at low or no cost. In some communities, for example, basic levels of service – up to 5 Mbps – are offered for no monthly charge to residents.
3. The City of Los Angeles wants to ensure broadband networks support net neutrality.
The vitality of the Internet depends on the ability of users to access sites of their choosing, and to take advantage of the content and applications that can be offered via the Internet. If a network owner can block access to some sites, or charge based on the information being sought or transmitted, that vitality may be lost. The LACBN project will encourage networks that at least support net neutrality, meaning that the LACBN will attempt to treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.
6 73 P.L. 416; 48 Stat. 1064; 73 Cong. Ch. 652, Sec.1, codified as 47 U.S.C. § 151. The entire statute is available here: http://transition.fcc.gov/Reports/1934new.pdf (last accessed April 14, 2014).
7 The President's September 21, 2009 speech is available on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbadrGIL1ck (last accessed April 14, 2014).
The City recognizes that it is not simple to build out broadband infrastructure throughout the City, or to achieve the other goals outlined above. Broadly speaking, there are at least three ways that communities have pursued broadband deployment. One way is for the municipality itself to build a broadband network that competes with private enterprise. The second is by seeking to attract entry of a new competitor that is willing to build a new "Google type" model to service the city or parts of it. The third is by seeking to encourage one or more incumbents to expand their existing networks.
At this stage, the City is seeking to achieve its goals through the second and third options by issuing a request for proposals from qualified bidders. Among other steps, to encourage qualified companies to bid to build, and to offer Universal Broadband Services:
- The City is identifying the property it owns that may be useful to an entity building a broadband wireline or wireless network – space within public buildings, or on public property, or City-owned structures – and will make those available on appropriate terms in return for commitments to build.
- The City is reviewing its contracts for communications services and facilities, so that it may be in a position to serve as an immediate “anchor tenant” on an advanced communications network. The City, for example, requires fiber connections to hundreds of public buildings located throughout the City and could meet those requirements through contracts with the company or companies selected through the RFP process. The City, through its Information Technology Department, currently expends about $100 million/year on communications services or services that could be satisfied through a “cloud computing” model. The City is willing to provide a 10 year commitment for services or facilities with options up to 20 years to the winning bidder.
- The City is reviewing its permitting processes to find ways to streamline them to make it easier for companies to quickly construct broadband networks, and is also taking other steps to ensure that any bidder will have fair access to critical infrastructure like utility poles.
- The City is reviewing mechanisms through which it may dedicate staff to help expedite the build, and coordinate construction of the advanced network(s) of the winning bidder or bidders with the City’s plans for upgrading and improving other City infrastructure.
- The City is reviewing ways in which it can facilitate access by the winning bidder or bidders to serve residents of multi-unit dwellings like apartments.
The City will be asking the bidders to propose an enforceable timetable and process for build-out, that has understandable and measurable network performance standards, and that includes a strong Broadband Universal Service plan that ensures that no underserved area in the City’s 15 Councilmember districts remains underserved. The City will consider models in which a bidder agrees to build to an area if a certain number of persons commit to take service. The City will consider any innovative uses of technology – such as fiber to the street in front of the home, coupled with advanced 4G and Wi-fi technologies. The City will encourage joint bidding. The winning bidder or bidders will be the entities that best satisfy the City’s goals through the LABCN project.
The City is also engaged in a community outreach effort to identify broadband needs and interests, and to help identify areas where service is most needed. This site is part of that effort, and the City welcomes information about the availability (or lack of availability) of broadband in the City, and suggestions for speeding deployment.
We invite you to take our survey.
FAQs from the Publics (Frequently Asked Questions)
1) Will the Fiber and WiFi be available to every facility and space in Los Angeles?
That will depend on the ultimate design of the networks, but that is the general goal, at least with respect to developed areas where installation is not infeasible for environmental or other reasons. Households, multi-unit dwellings and businesses (including school campuses) will have the option of not connecting to the LACBN, of course, or obtaining services through other providers that may serve them.
2) How fast will the free WiFI and fiber broadband be?
That will be determined through the bid process, but based on what has been proposed elsewhere, it is expected that the free service will be half the speed of the lowest paid package from the leading Internet Service Providers.
3) How much will the paid tier offerings cost and how much for a 1Gbps service?
Bidders will be asked to make some pricing commitments through the bid process, both as to monthly fees and as to installation charges. While we do not know what will be proposed in response to the City’s RFP, the 1Gbps offerings in Kansas City, MO and Chattanooga, TN to residences costs about $75 per month.8
4) Will the network be secured?
This will depend on the services the winning bidder chooses to offer over time. Internet communications are inherently insecure, but to the extent the network is an open network, users should be able to have secure Internet communications just as they do on many existing networks.
5) Will there be a monthly cost for a customer equipment (such as a set top box, router or wireless modem)?
Vendors will be allowed to charge a fee for necessary customer equipment, but the City is working with non-profits so that RFP respondents will be able to develop proposals for Broadband Universal Service that include provision of equipment required to access the Internet for low income households.
6) What is the City doing to avoid any health risks that may be associated with deployment of wireless facilities?
As part of the RFP process, bidders will be required to commit that they will comply with all health standards that apply now or in the future. In addition, we expect that the most economic and effective approach to the LACBN will take advantage of the new fiber that would be installed to eliminate some wireless connections now used to connect wireless sites – it will not necessarily increase emissions risks.
7) Why wouldn’t the City have LADWP build out the fiber network and offer internet services?
There is significant private investment in communications networks, and the City believes it is wise, to first see if private enterprise is willing to work with the City to deploy advanced networks.
8 The Chattanooga prices are available at: http://chattanoogagig.com/ (last accessed April 14, 2014).