The storied home of Tinseltown is soliciting proposals for the creation of a city-wide Wi-Fi network which could provide broadband Internet to all homes and businesses in the area free of charge.

Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in favour of the issuance of a request for proposals (RFP) for the initiative, which will set the ball rolling for the bidding process for vendors.

Steve Reneker from the Los Angeles Information Technology Agency said the plan envisages the running of fibre optic connections to every residence, business and government entity within the LA city limits, an area which boasts a population of approximately 3.5 million people.

LA Councilman Bob Blumenfield

LA Councilman Bob Blumenfield

Councilman Bob Blumenfield is leading efforts to bring the project to fruition, with his office stating in a press release that expanding access to wireless broadband and fibre will boost both business and employment opportunities in the city.

According to Blumenfield’s office, LA will be the largest city in the United States with free universal access to wireless broadband should the plan prove a success.

This is not the first time LA’s municipal government has mulled the introduction of a free broadband network, drafting an implementation plan way back in 2007. That project was scuppered, however, by an estimated cost of around $46 million, which at the time was deemed exorbitant.

The cost of the current plan could vary tremendously, from millions for the provision of universal access to a 2Mpbs to 5Mpbs service to billions for the latest gigabit fiber optic system.

This time around, however, the scope of costs may not have too much bearing on plan selection, as LA City Council expects vendors to pay for the project themselves. Reneker says this could potentially be achieved by allowing the winning bidder to sell advertising via the network or charge a premium for the provision of three-part connection packages encompassing Internet, landline phone services and wifi

LA’s current efforts to introduce city-wide Wi-Fi access will also be abetted by the implementation of similar schemes over the past several years which could serve as invaluable reference.

Internet giant Google has already run trials of the provision of free broadband Internet to entire communities via fibre-optic network infrastructure under its Google Fiber project, starting with Kansas City in March 2011.

Following the construction of network infrastructure, Google announced pricing for Google Fiber in July 2012, with the tripartite service package encompassing a free broadband internet option, a 1Gbps internet option for $70 per month, and a version including television service for $120 per month.