Blumenfield WiFi Initiative Gets First Hearing Before the Los Angeles City Council, Clears Crucial Hurdle

Council offers support as ITA is authorized to draft RFP for release.

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s proposal to bring free citywide wireless broadband to Los Angeles cleared a significant hurdle today as the Council unanimously directed the City’s Information Technology Agency (ITA) to draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the service.

“The benefits to the City from universal access to broadband are numerous,” said Blumenfield. “In particular, wireless internet access will help bridge the digital divide while generating economic development and making our City even more friendly to visitors. I am pleased to see my colleagues recognizing the value of investing in our virtual infrastructure.”

Expanded access to wireless broadband and fiber is expected to have tangible benefits to local job creation and workforce development initiatives.

ITA General Manager Steve Renecker presented the Council with what has worked in other cities and what the City of Los Angeles has done in the past as the agency looks towards drafting an RFP that includes fiber and wireless accessibility.

It has been nearly 5 years since Los Angeles abandoned a previous WiFi initiative based on outdated wireless mesh technology. In that time, cities such as Houston, Philadelphia and Minneapolis have successfully implemented their own wireless broadband initiatives, while technology has seen significant advancements.

The wireless broadband initiative, introduced by the Councilmember in July, is Blumenfield’s first major policy initiative as Chair of the Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee (ITGS).

Speaking in favor of the initiative, Kevin Taylor, Chairman of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, which has already adopted a resolution of support for Blumenfield’s wireless broadband initiative, called it a “game-changing effort to Los Angeles to match other world class cities.”

Since its introduction, the initiative has worked through the City at breakneck speed. Councilmember Blumenfield has worked with Councilmembers Bonin and O’Farrell, who also serve on the ITGS committee, on how to best implement the program. Today offered the first opportunity for the full Council to hear the proposal.

Following Blumenfield’s directive, the Council authorized ITA to draft a RFP with an eye towards leveraging City assets to lower costs to the City and create incentives for potential partners. Councilmember Blumenfield used the opportunity to encourage potential bidders to submit proposals.

“We are not going about this in a prescriptive way. I want to urge any and all potential partners to submit creative proposals as we look to push Los Angeles into the 21st Century.”

When completed, Los Angeles would be the largest city in the United States with free universal access to wireless broadband.

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