Villaraigosa Pledges CityWide Wi-Fi in 2 Years

villaraigosa wireless municipal los angeles

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today declared “the start of Los Angeles version 2.0,” announcing a plan to roll out what would be the largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the country.

Bidding for the project may begin as soon as this fall with a target of mid-late 2008 construction and early 2009 completion. It could cost up to $60 million to cover Los Angeles’ 470 square miles, city IT assistant general manager Mark Wolf told the Times, which, by my calculation, amounts to around $15 or so per capita (few, if any, tax dollars will likely be involved).

Municipal WiFi is a no-brainer for Los Angeles, with an economy bolstered by a tech and entertainment industry that will no doubt be gratefully attracted to such a system, while bridging the digital divide. “On a practical level, this means providing integral, high-speed solution for entertainment companies to juggle simultaneous projects in real-time at lower cost with reliable teleconferencing, for example,” said Villaraigosa.

Philadelphia’s mu-fi project appears to be going well after a slow start ($21.95/mo or $9.95 and Houston today became the largest city to sign on a carrier (Earthlink).

SF announced their wifi ambitions in 2004 and its still not certain when it will be fully operational — perhaps the way will have been paved for LA by ’09.

Read the full presser at MuniWireless. More at LAist.

Other LA metro wifi spots live and/or in development include:

* Culver City (the first in the LA metro)
* 17 wireless access points along the promenade, at city hall and by the end of May, Santa Monica Pier and the civic auditorium.
* 1 square mile +/- of wifi in Downtown Burbank (via Qwest DSL and access points aimed at a large hillside satellite)
* West Hollywood Public Wifi — along Santa Monica Blvd between Fairfax and La Brea.
* Anaheim (right now at $21.95/mo. – similar to PHilly except not sure if it has the lower-rate plans)
* Newport and Laguna Beach Harbors (up to a few miles out at sea)

Further reading:

* Ars Technica on the pros and cons of muni wifi.
* Worldchanging on the politics of municipal wireless.
* Muni Wifi notes and legislation.
Free Press — Community Internet.

photo by Eric Richardson via flickr.

Muni WiFi Censorship in Metro L.A.

Culver City is one of many municipalities in metro Los Angeles offering some form of free wifi network. Culver City’s system has been thought of as the first, city-owned free system and other cities including Burbank, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood followed suit by providing free public wireless access in localized areas, primarily to promote tourism and the business districts.

But it turns out Free wireless access doesn’t exactly mean “free access.”

Culver City, which, incidentally, is home to no fewer than three motion picture studios (including — yup — Sony), has implemented filtering that blocks users on its municipal wifi network from accessing p2p sites, porn, and other “questionable content.” The incriminating “nannyware” in this instance is CopySense.

Mack at LAVoice has a bit more on this here.

And Sacha Meinrath at warns:

While the telecommunications battle of 2006 has been all about Network Neutrality, a storm is gathering for 2007-8 to be the war over Digital Rights Management.

Originally published August 24 2006 in the Set-Top Cop blog.