Los Angeles to go Wi-Fi. Wow!

One of America’s biggest of big cities has decided to unwire. Los Angeles has joined the growing legions of municipalities planning to build a citywide wireless network. And it’ll soon be looking for partners.One of America’s biggest of big cities has decided to unwire.

Los Angeles has joined the growing legions of municipalities planning to build a citywide wireless network. And it’ll soon be looking for partners.

A press release issued by Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa on Tuesday announced the plan, calling the proposed network the “largest” in the United States. LA is not the first city to stake that claim but its move into the muni-wireless arena should lock a hold on the claim for a while.

Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the country, topped only by New York which has wireless initiatives but (so far) none that are citywide. LA’s population was careening toward the four million mark in 2005. The city covers 470 square miles and accounts for more than 11 percent of Los Angeles County’s land area and 38 percent of its population.

In announcing the initiative, the mayor described it as “the start of Los Angeles version 2.0” and outlined its aim to provide cost-effective, high-speed Internet access to residents, schools and businesses.

An RFP will evidently follow the city’s hiring of a technology consultant to help it “structure a proposal to attract and engage the private sector.”

According to the news release “the working team will consider several issues, including adopting (the) best business model for Los Angeles’ needs, ensuring community participation in the network’s planning, and honing the network’s ability to improve city services.” Construction is expected to begin by mid-2008 and be complete by 2009.

What I found most intriguing in the announcement was the extent to which it focused on how the network could serve the entertainment industry that is so vital to the city’s economy. According to the release “Wireless internet is just one component of WiFi usage with businesses and municipal governments using the technology to transfer endless amounts of data. On a practical level, this means providing integral, high-speed solution for entertainment companies to juggle simultaneous projects in real-time at lower cost with reliable teleconferencing, for example.”

Click here to read the L.A. Times article about the announcement.

At this writing, the city had not posted the press release online so I’m running it in full for you to read below.

> MAYOR ANTONIO R. VILLARAIGOSA

> City of Los Angeles

>

> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

> February 13, 2007

> MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA ANNOUNCES LA WIFI INITIATIVE

> The LA WiFi network will be the single largest citywide network in the

> country providing wireless, cost-effective, high-speed internet access

>

> LOS ANGELES * Working to connect all of Los Angeles to the global

> community and global economy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today

> announced the LA WiFi Initiative, which will provide residents,

> schools and businesses with cost-effective, high-speed access to the

> internet. The LA WiFi Initiative will plan and build the single

> largest citywide network in the country.

>

> “Today is the start of Los Angeles version 2.0,” Mayor Villaraigosa

> said. “Today we announce our commitment to creating the single

> largest citywide wireless network in the country.”

>

> Joining Mayor Villaraigosa for the announcement were Councilman Tony

> Cardenas, chair of the city’s information technology committee; Tim

> Sarnoff, president Sony Pictures Imageworks; John Manulis, CEO of

> Visionbox Media Group; and, students from the Oscar de la Hoya Charter

> School.

>

> “In today’s fast-paced world, we need to give hard-working Angelenos

> an easier and cheaper way of doing business with the city. Providing a

> city-wide wireless telecommunications program is another way of

> bridging the gap between local government and the communities it

> serves,” said Councilman Cardenas, chairman of the city’s information

> technology committee.

>

> “The lifeblood of the entertainment business is communicating,”

> John Manulis said. “Whether it’s creative ideas, complex logistics or

> bringing the story to audience, our industry is already global.

> “But for Los Angeles to maintain its primacy as the entertainment

> capital of world, a robust and fully accessible broadband network is

> essential.”

>

> The first step of the LA WiFi initiative is to hire a technology

> expert who will join a city team to structure a proposal to attract

> and engage the private sector. The working team will consider several

> issues, including adopting best business model for Los Angeles’ needs,

> ensuring community participation in the network’s planning, and honing

> the network’s ability to improve city services. Once negotiations

> with the private sector are complete, the construction of the

> network’s infrastructure will begin. It is estimated that

> construction of the network would begin in mid 2008 with completion of

> the citywide network by 2009.

>

> “By giving every resident high-speed access, we will transform Los

> Angeles into a cutting-edge city across every neighborhood and every

> economic sector,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “LA WiFi will help us meet

> the technology needs of our world-class media and creative industries,

> give a leg up to small businesses, plug every neighborhood directly

> into the knowledge-based global economy, and make computer training

> programs for students an after-school reality.”

>

> Wireless internet is just one component of WiFi usage with businesses

> and municipal governments using the technology to transfer endless

> amounts of data. On a practical level, this means providing integral,

> high-speed solution for entertainment companies to juggle simultaneous

> projects in real-time at lower cost with reliable teleconferencing,

> for example.

>

> “For a business, efficiency is at the heart of being able to compete.

> By bringing WiFi citywide, we are trying to leapfrog our physical

> limitations,” John Manulis of Visionbox Media said. “If you

> extrapolate how the shift to email from faxes had on the efficiency of

> business, you realize the future ability to move around ideas and

> pieces aggressively within a community or overseas are simply

> extraordinary * and critical.”

>

> The City of Los Angeles could use the network to enhance the delivery

> of city services by transmitting data between police patrol cars,

> instantaneously sending the location of potholes or forwarding on-site

> building inspection reports to speed up the building process.

>

> Today’s announcement was held at 7 + FIG, a shopping and dining

> destination located at the foot of Ernst & YoungPlaza. Brookfield

> Properties, who owns and manages 7 + FIG, currently provides wireless

> internet at no cost to its customers.

>

> “WiFi” is short for Wireless Fidelity and is commonly used to refer to

> a system that sends data over radio waves through a network of

> transmitters. Transmitters, the size of shoe boxes, bounce data back

> and forth to each other and to users. Many Angelenos have connected

> wirelessly to the internet using a WiFi network at home or at a coffee

> shop. The LA WiFi Initiative would expand that type of network

> citywide at a low cost and at high speeds.

>

Comments

  1. As I use my EVDO access more and more, I have a hard time understanding why this network is needed in Los Angeles where high speed wireless Internet is already available throughout the city from at least two cellular carriers.

    I don’t believe there is a neighborhood anywhere in Los Angeles that does not have access to multiple DSL providers (many very inexpensive) and cable Internet. Los Angeles is a very big place geographically, this will be a very costly project (to say the least).

  2. Anthony McCray says:

    As I read frank keeney’s comments regarding why los angeles would need a WiFi network; it raised question in my mind as to what rather than why.

    Although there are cellular mesh networks covering los angeles these networks do not provide total in building coverage nor are they always providing the coverage to the many applications that can be provided utilizing WLAN networks.

    Having a multi-application WLAN network could provide city of los angeles with many valuable perks such as a reduction in crime, improved medical response, and public access to information.

    Utilities could operate more efficiently, accurately, and more secure utilizing AMR-Automatic Meter Reading.

    In the event of a first reponse episode vital building blueprints could be accessed potentially saving many lives. What’s great about this is that planned properly it’s a win win situation all the way around.

    It just depends upon what is most important to Angelenos and not just what brings in the most revenue. Utilzing VLANS-Virtual Local Area Networks multiple applications can share this wonderful space called WiFi.

    The entertaiment industry, public safety, education, utilities, city officials, medical, and the general public can all increase our productivity, generate an increased ROI, and most importantly improve the safety in our wonderful city.