Free wi-fi in Los Angeles sounds about as probable to us as California backing the Tea Party in the next election.
See also: Free Wi-Fi For All of Los Angeles?
But it's moving along. The city's Information Technology and General Services Committee was set to meet this afternoon to discuss how all of L.A. can get wired. The latest wi-fi proposal is the brainchild of City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who has said:
Free and universal public access to WiFi is another critical component of a modern, accessible government. Expanding access to WiFi will benefit our City in numerous ways, from helping to close the digital divide for students to reducing start-up costs for new businesses.
Sounds good. But now comes the nitty-gritty. How will it work? Will City Hall blast a wi-fi beam across town, or will it involve localized hot-spots?
Will the telecommunications and cable companies that now charge a lot for this service be cut out, or will they get a contract from the city? Will you be able to surf porn?
Inquiring minds want to know.
And that's why the tech committee is rolling out its report today. A preliminary report posted last month seems to have the city favoring localized hot-spots, which have found success in other cities, including San Francisco.
The report recommends that City Hall ask for proposals from broadband service providers that would “respect the commercial carriers' basic levels of service” while not interfering with “carrier competition.”
Indeed, Jason Levin, a spokesman for the councilman said “there's a potential for this to benefit all parties,” e.g. the broadband companies.
“We're not out there to put them out of business,” he told the Weekly.
The report also recommends installing hot-spots at parks and other city-owned facilities where local residents have “median incomes under $45,000.”
Levin says the tech committee is looking to help make this happen:
They're going to be reporting on what other cities have done, what worked, what hasn't, and what's unique to L.A. that can be brought to the table.
Our iPads are waiting.
The hearing will be video streamed today at 2 p.m. at the city's website.