Los Angeles municipal broadband project: CityLink LA RFP

The City of Los Angeles has released a Request For Participants CityLink LA Initiative For Deployment of Advanced Broadband Systems looking for companies to build a citywide Wi-Fi and wireline broadband network (see CityLinkLA website). I have posted an excerpt of the CityLink LA RFP introduction so you can see what the city has in mind. Broadly speaking, the city wants private parties with very deep pockets to deploy the network. The city will not provide financing. We’re back to the old franchise model.

Deadline for CityLink LA RFP responses: 12 November 2015

Below is an excerpt from the RFP:

This Request for Participants is part of a City initiative to encourage the private sector to deploy advanced wireline and Wi-Fi digital communications networks so that every residence and business in Los Angeles has access to world-class, high-speed broadband Internet access. We refer to the City initiative, and the resulting infrastructure as CityLinkLA, although the CityLinkLA infrastructure could actually be multiple networks, constructed independently over time by many different network owners.

The City seeks Proposals from entities who are willing to enter into contracts with the City to deploy advanced Wi-Fi and wireline infrastructure and address the digital divide and community needs by providing for a level of free services to members of the public.

More specifically, the City asks for Proposers to propose networks that will:

  • Provide wireline access to the Internet to homes and businesses (or to the curb outside a home or business combined with a wireless connection to the premises) via a network designed to deliver symmetrical speeds of 1 Gbps or higher to each residential unit, and to offer a business level of service at similar or higher speeds.
  • Provide ready Wi-Fi access to the Internet that will maximize the availability of the Internet to residents and visitors in developed areas of the City.
  • Address the individuals and families not regularly accessing the Internet today due to cost, access, awareness, or equipment issues (an issue often referred to as the “digital divide”) through provision of a level of free access to the Internet via wireline and Wi-Fi services, and services to targeted community centers.

To support this initiative the City is prepared to:

  •  Establish a Digital Infrastructure Permitting Group and a single point of contact that will provide expedited handling of applications for construction of major communications projects in order to streamline and speed deployment of advanced communications infrastructure.
  • Provide space on certain City property suitable for placement of hubs or “central offices” for a rate that could be as low as $3 per sq. ft. per year. The City has identified over 100 sites throughout the City where about 1400 sq. ft. in total is available without the need for a conditional use permit or other discretionary authorization for placement of a precast one-story aggregation non-occupied building approximately 12’x30’ in size with surrounding space for access, assuming that the “public benefits” criteria set out in Section 14.00(A)(6) of the Los Angeles Municipal Code are met.
  • Lease existing fiber optic strands in bulk under long term contracts at a rate that escalates over time, so that in early years, the cost burden to potential entrants is minimized.
  • Lease access to the storm water drainage system to allow providers to minimize delays that may otherwise follow if providers were required to obtain, for example, permits to cross federal highways.
  • Provide access at favorable bulk rates to City street light poles with appropriate power supplies for placement of Wi-Fi devices.
  • Provide access to park property for placement of Wi-Fi infrastructure that will permit providers to reach some of the most highly trafficked areas within the City.
  • Work with the selected Proposer or Proposers to jointly brand and promote the CityLinkLA initiative and to coordinate with other City efforts to bridge the digital divide, in a way that should help enhance market opportunities for each selected Proposer.

The City has developed a robust data base of useful resources to assist Proposers in developing meaningful Proposals. In addition, Proposers should be aware that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) owns or jointly owns a majority of the utility poles within the City of Los Angeles. Available space on those poles is provided at regulated rates, and subject to procedures governed by California law. As a joint pole owner, in instances where there is useable, excess space and capacity on the pole, LADWP may be able to reallocate pole space to make it available to winning Proposers for communications space attachments (the attachment, of course, must be of a design that can be accommodated on the pole).

Because of the size of the City, for purposes of the RFP the City has been divided into four quadrants. Proposers may submit a Proposal for one or more quadrants. Joint Proposals are encouraged. A Proposer who wishes to build out a smaller portion of the City may submit a Proposal to do so, but should be aware that certain assets described in this RFP will be available at the prices described in this RFP only to those who offer to serve an entire quadrant or combination of quadrants. The quadrants are shown on a map included as Attachment A to this RFP.

The City will entertain demand-based Proposals, under which a Proposer offers to build out portions of its proposed service area based on the demand for paid services. Any Proposal taking this approach will need to be crafted in a way that ensures that advanced networks will be available in all parts of the area to be served, including low-income areas.

The City’s goal is for CityLinkLA network(s) to be built out in a five-year period from the award of the contract(s).