Angelenos are one step closer to getting free Wi-Fi after a new development in an "ambitious proposal" to make wireless Internet available across the city.
The LA City Council unanimously approved the Request for Participants (RFP), a move to get companies to agree to be part of a plan that would bring free wireless Internet to Angelenos within five years.
The vote is a major milestone for CityLinkLA, initiated by City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2013.
CityLinkLA, formerly known as Los Angeles Community Broadband Network, hopes to make LA a global leader in connectivity, and make Internet accessible for everyone in the city.
"In today’s digital age, Internet access is a necessity, not a luxury," Blumenfield said.
Blumenfield also led efforts for a successful Request for Information research project for CityLinkLA in April 2014.
"More than 30 percent of our families in LA still don’t have broadband Internet access. That presents real challenges in everyday life, from finding jobs to obtaining an education to participating in our City’s social fabric," Garcetti said in a statement. "Delivering digital infrastructure for access to the Internet is as important today as our other older infrastructure that delivers electricity, transportation, clean water, and lighted streets."
If the plan is successful, free wireless Internet access would be available across the entire city.
While there is no guarantee that companies will agree, providers offering their services would gain access to city assets such as fiber optic strands, streetlights, sewer lines, and expedited permits.
Citywide Wi-Fi would not cost taxpayers, but make better use of the infrastructure already in place, Blumenfield said.
The finalized RFP will be available by June 23. Responses will be accepted until mid-November, and a required proposers conference will be held on July 16.
"It’s an ambitious proposal," Bloomsfield said. "But we’re LA, we’re going for it."