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LA Tech Transformation Starts with Fiber

The city's long-term strategy to become technologically stable and innovative contains a search for a vendor that can provide fiber connectivity to 3.5 million people.

Los Angeles has its sights set on improving city technology in 2014, including a major fiber connectivity project.

According to Steve Reneker, general manager of the Los Angeles Information Technology Agency, next year Los Angeles will look for a vendor to install a $3 billion to $5 billion fiber network that will bring gigabit speeds to every home, business and government office within city limits.

As a large producer of audio and video content sought out by viewers worldwide, Reneker said he believes Los Angeles is uniquely positioned relative to other cities undergoing fiber transformations. He believes that by having a robust fiber network, Los Angeles can be a leader in streaming audio and video and attract a number of companies to the area.

The project is part of a broader strategic IT plan for the city, which is now under way. In addition to the fiber project, the plan includes a lot of internal changes such as improving reliability to the city’s data networks, replacing legacy phone equipment, and changing the ERP strategy. The city also will update its 311 mobile app to add work order system integration. This will enable users to see what’s happening with their request. That will go live next year.

“[The plan] is really focused on fixing the operational issues that due to the economy have been left by the wayside over the last three and four years,” Reneker said. “So, correcting the lack of investment, the lack of technology refresh, the reduction in staff that make operational aspects of our infrastructure difficult to keep going forward, tries to deliver an incremental approach to starting a long, lengthy rebuilding process.”

Likewise, the city’s plan for acquiring a fiber vendor is targeted toward a long-term, partnership-style approach. For the fiber rollout — which will include a wireless component that delivers Wi-Fi to the city — the vendor is guaranteed a certain level of revenue for their investment and they will also gain the city as an anchored tenant on the network.

Los Angeles has identified $50 million in guaranteed revenue for the vendor, Reneker said. The city wants to offer free Internet to some users, and pay plans that range in speed up to the gigabit level.

Reneker added that the city’s ideal fiber vendor also would be able to offer dedicated services to help manage the city’s data network. Examples include upgrades to Los Angeles’ VOIP platforms and migrating the city’s existing fiber and cell contracts.

Most components of Los Angeles’ IT strategic plan are funded through the summer of next year. The city is still working on securing funding for various elements. On July 1, 2014, the city will release the second year of the plan.

“It’s going to be more like a five-year effort to bring us back into a supportable, standardized, and innovative government from a technology perspective,” Reneker said.

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.