A Los Angeles City Council member has introduced a motion to study the feasibility of a municipal broadband network that would provide at-cost high-speed Internet to the city's businesses and residents.
This motion, introduced this month by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, called for a study into the creation of a new public department to oversee what is essentially an effort to improve the city’s broadband capabilities. If successful when it goes up for a vote in the coming months, the motion would make Los Angeles one of a growing number of state and local governments across the country that is exploring the feasibility of municipal broadband efforts with an eye toward potentially turning high-speed Internet access into a utility akin to electricity, water or gas.
In announcing the motion, Krekorian emphasized that providing at-cost access to high-speed Internet was increasingly important, citing developing factors such as a lack of competition among Internet service providers, as well as the Federal Communications Commission’s decision last year to repeal protections for net neutrality. Krekorian also noted that Los Angeles already owns a network of fiber-optic cable that runs through every part of the city, and his intention is to see whether the local government can tap this to provide access to fast Internet connections.
Elsewhere in California, San Francisco recently moved to start choosing private-sector partners capable of helping it build its own broadband network at the lowest possible cost. This comes after roughly three years of determining what a city-owned network might look like. As part of these efforts, San Francisco is requiring that its potential service provider adhere to net neutrality principles. It is also requiring subsidies for low-income residents, as well as privacy protections for consumer data.