Los Angeles Looking to Set Up Citywide WiFi - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Los Angeles Looking to Set Up Citywide WiFi

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(FOX11/CNS) - City officials reached out to technology companies, experts and even residents today for advice on establishing citywide Internet service -- both wired and wireless.

"By getting bidder and community input up front, we are better able to design a system to meet the needs of consumers and businesses with a process that utilizes the free market for the benefit of all Angelenos," Councilman Bob Blumenfield said. "From the public library, to the post office, to the telephone, universal access to information and communication has helped make our country great.

"The Los Angeles Community Broadband Network will lead the nation into the 21st Century by applying that principle to the Internet," he said.

Blumenfield last year called on the city to develop the network to ensure every business and home in the city has access to high-speed Internet access and wireless broadband. A formal request for bids for the project is expected to be issued later this year.

But today, Blumenfield and other officials issued a "request for information," reaching out to experts and others for comment about the proposed system. The officials noted that at least 30 percent of people in the city lack access to an Internet network."The LA Community Broadband Network will be the largest municipal broadband network in the nation and will benefit a community that still has near a third of its residents without Internet access or the ability to pay for it," according to Steve Reneker, general manager of the city Information Technology Agency.

The city last tried to implement citywide WiFi in 2007 under an initiative started by then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Tony Cardenas. The city dropped the plan in 2009 after determining that the estimated $38 million to $46 million cost to build the WiFi system would be too expensive.

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