Gigabit for 3.5m residents: Los Angeles wants FTTP



news The City of Los Angeles has reportedly revealed plans to embark on a massive Fibre to the Premises city-wide deployment of fibre broadband, in a model that may deliver gigabit broadband speeds to the city’s 3.5 million residents and all businesses and vault it into the next-generation of technology enablement.

Quoting Los Angeles IT Agency general manager Steve Reneker, US-based technology media outlet Arstechnica reported overnight (we recommend you click here for the full article) that the city plans to issue a request for proposals document that would see it select one supplier to run fibre to every resident, delivering free Internet access of between 2Mbps and 5Mbps and paid broadband at speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Los Angeles expects, according to Arstechnica, the fibre rollout to cost between $3 billion and $5 billion — but the cost would be bourne by the vendor, who would, in effect, receive a regulated right over its infrastructure and a captive pool of customers in return. The network model would reportedly be open access — meaning that other ISPs would be able to sell access on the infrastructure.

The model chosen by Los Angeles mimics almost precisely the Fibre to the Premises plan which represents Labor’s NBN policy. Under Labor’s NBN policy, some 93 percent of Australian premises were to have received fibre directly to the premise, delivering maximum download speeds of up to 1Gbps and maximum upload speeds of 400Mbps. The remainder of the population was to have been served by a combination of satellite and wireless broadband, delivering speeds of up to 25Mbps.

And Labor’s plan also involved an open access network, which retail ISPs would be able to provide services over.

Originally, the Coalition’s policy was also to have seen fibre to the premises deployed to a significantly lesser proportion of the population — 22 percent. However, much of the remainder (71 percent) was to use the rival fibre to the node technology, where fibre is extended to neighbourhood ‘nodes’ and the remainder of the distance to premises covered by Telstra’s existing copper network. The model is significantly less technically capable than the FTTP model picked under Labor’s policy. The Coalition’s policy was also continue to use the HFC cable network operated by Telstra and will also target the remaining 7 percent of premises with satellite and wireless.

However, the possibility of a different style of rollout has been raised by Turnbull in the several months since the Liberal MP became Communications Minister. In late September, Turnbull appeared to have drastically modified the Coalition’s policy stance on the NBN just weeks after the Federal Election, declaring the Coalition was not wedded to its fibre to the node model and was “thoroughly open-minded” about the technology to be used in the network. NBN Co is currently conducting a strategic review into its operations and model that will inform Turnbull’s decisions regarding the project’s future.

Los Angeles’ model is just the latest planned deployment emerging from the United States which is focusing on FTTP broadband with gigabit speeds, with the Google Fiber initiative also focusing on the same model. Google has deployed its all-fibre infrastructure to cities such as Kansas City in Kansas, as well as Kansas City in Missouri, and there are plans underway for additional expansion to other Kansas City suburbs, as well as Austin in Texas and Provo in Utah.

However, the FTTN model preferred by the Coalition is also popular, especially throughout Europe, where most countries are currently preferring to upgrade their national copper networks in the method preferred by the Coalition, rather than the FTTP model preferred by Labor.

It is unclear as yet whether Los Angeles will be successful in attracting a supplier to build and own the planned FTTP network. Major telcos such as AT&T, Verizon and others, as well as potentially even Google, would be on the list of companies the city would likely be speaking to.

What we’re seeing here is a highly interesting move by the City of Los Angeles. It is essentially proposing, as the then-Labor Opposition did under Kevin Rudd back in mid-2007, a massive broadband network funded and operated by the private sector, but with enough regulatory certainty that whoever funds and builds the network is able to be certain that they can get a solid return on their investment.

That model is very much not the norm globally, and has even failed in countries such as Australia, where the then-Labor Government’s expert panel found that none of the bids were suitable. And that was with, let us not forget, the promise of $4.7 billion of public money on the table. Los Angeles is not even offering that — it wants the private sector to fund the whole lot itself.

Personally, I don’t think it is very likely that Los Angeles’ network rollout will go ahead, unless it can sign up a major ‘non-telco’ player such as Google for the initiative. Google has the deep pockets and network rollout experience to get something like this done, and it has certainly made great progress in other cities, although the company might baulk at having to provide wholesale access to its fibre infrastructure, which it hasn’t done with respect to its other network rollouts.

Telcos such as AT&T and Verizon are unlikely to be willing to sign up to rolling out this kind of network for Los Angeles unless they can get more direct financial support from the city or more control over how the network is operated.

On the other hand, if the rollout does go ahead, it will be an amazing success story for this kind of partnership. The residents and businesses of Los Angeles, who have historically, by many accounts, suffered relatively poor levels of broadband, will certainly be more than happy if the project does get off the ground.

Image credit: ElSlunko, Creative Commons


  1. It’ll never happen, because the incumbent telco monopoly will take legal action to block the rollout while they themselves roll out just enough fibre to make this network completely uneconomical (at least, IIRC that’s what’s happened to the last half a dozen US cities who’ve tried this…)

  2. Why arent they rolling out FttN? Its whacko to want FttH, and besides, FttN is faster and cheaper…

  3. Will overseas investors be allowed? Malcolm likes that kind of investmemt for his portfolio.

    • I look forward to Microsoft rolling out FTTP in Australia, so coupled with Google that should cover all of Australia.

      • I’m not sure if you read the article, but Microsoft was lobbying the Coalition Government to continue with FTTP instead of proceeding along the Coalition’s preferred vastly-inferior FTTN path. As Coalition governments have typically been on the side of big business, one hopes they’ll listen. What Microsoft (or Google for that matter) were not offering was to start rolling out fibre to Australian homes and businesses. The simple fact of the matter is that there is no reasonable justification for downgrading the project. But if recent experience is any indication, I expect Malcolm to issue a snarky statement without substance similar to yours, “If Microsoft want FTTP, why don’t they offer to roll it out?”

      • Yes very funny Fibroid…coming from someone who has used UK FttN as their main reason for FttN (never mentioning UK FttP) to be rolled out here… making hypocritical and continual jokes when others make similar analogies, which you disagree with.

        However I’m sure Harimau won’t back pedal and blame FttN (as you have strangely recently tried to do relating to the previously unmentioned FttP in the UK) if FttP elsewhere turns sour…

        • @Alex

          ‘coming from someone who has used UK FttN as their main reason for FttN’

          I have never used the BT rollout as the ‘main reason for FTTN’ exclusively, others in the world are doing it including AT&T, Duetsche Telkom, Swiss Telecom, France Telecom, and Chorus in NZ

          ‘ (never mentioning UK FttP) to be rolled out here’

          I have mentioned the Openreach FTTP rollout quite often, most recently here at length, but you know that:

          You always remind of the soccer player who goes for the spoil playing the man not the ball and hoping the umpire hasn’t noticed and ends up kicking a own goal.

          • Sorry that’s nothing but, blah, blah, blah…

            You used BT as your main FttN pin-up and we all know it, because so did MT…

            Secondly, you only started to mention BT and FttP in the one sentence when the proclaimed rosy UK roll out was found to be not so rosy after all and of course after all of the BT FttN chest beating comparisons you then blamed… FttP for the problems…


      • Taking your comment seriously, because current legislation by the previous Government does not allow for any infrastructure competition against NBNCo.
        Until the current government do change this (which they have promised), there isn’t much point in Microsoft or Google making any plans to build FTTx in Australia.

        • … err yeah and both of them are lobbying real hard to be able to roll out their own infrastructure.

          • Are you being sarcastic?

            If you are being sarcastic, why?

            If you aren’t being sarcastic and are genuinely obtuse… In that article I linked, Microsoft is lobbying the Government to CONTINUE ITS (Labor’s) OWN ROLLOUT OF FTTP.

          • @Harimau

            Unless you and midspace are the same person I was replying to his post where he said this:

            ‘Until the current government do change this (which they have promised), there isn’t much point in Microsoft or Google making any plans to build FTTx in Australia.’

            You want to try again?

          • Precisely. So how does what he said lead on to what you replied with?
            -> the government has not yet relaxed infrastructure competition regulation
            –> yes but Microsoft and google are lobbying hard for them to do so (false)

            Which is why I asked if you were being sarcastic. It was a genuine question. Maybe we’re just not on the same page here.

          • Do you even read what you write?
            You make absolutely no sense .

            Harimau has already said what has needed saying.

            There is no further point in replying to your comments, as you would obviously take it however you wanted, and twist it into a pretzel and still insist that it is a water cracker.

  4. Can someone verify, how much fibre Google have actually laid.

    Looking at google fibre it looks like two suburbs in Kansas City lol.

    Could it be possible that NBN have more customers than Google Fibre, (I couldnt be bothered looking it up)

    Finally City of Los Angeles is not all of Los Angeles

  5. But remember, no one would need these higher speeds!? Using degraded copper is the way of the future! pfft, article like this piss me off that we have Tony Abbott & Malcolm Turnbull having the say for this all.

    All i can say is, good on LA i have a friend in LA who have similar boat to us, degraded copper with DSL2, gets 2mbit at less than 1km to exchange.

  6. FTTH? FTTN? All completely useless. Wireless is the future

    How I miss that tired mantra they used to roll out at every opportunity. Malcolm could use his iPad wherever he went. Amazeballs

    • Not that they ever said wireless was a complete replacement for fixed line fibre, so we know what the’ tired mantra’ actually is.

        • You guys need to catch up on the ABS statistics…

          Look for the first table with the slider below it, showing growth in various techs over the years 2006 to 2013. Wireless BB (not including over 19.6 million BB enabled phone handsets) has outstripped every other type including DSL… *

          And while LA’s stance might resemble the NBN, they are only attempting to cover 3 some odd million (LA City). LA County is somewhere over 10 million (last count in 2009), and LA metropolitan area is almost 18 million in 2009… California of course totals close to 40 million people. Hardly what I’d call nationbuilding.

          *Of course, I don’t doubt there will be the usual wall of inanity dredged up to combat ABS figures put forward in black and white. At some point, the FTTP lobby have to stop acting like climate science deniers and actually wake up to what is happening around them. Yes, fibre is the superior medium and will be for the foreseeable future, that was never up for debate. But people make their choices and acknowledging that there will be duplication of services in a significant number of places, ADSL is in decline, wireless BB is increasing and cable/fibre/sat is relatively stable in the meantime. Those ADSL connections have to be going somewhere…

          • Jun 2013
            Mobile wireless 6,150,000
            ALL other connections 6,208,000

            I’m not sure how you read this, but I read this as almost everyone who has a fixed line connection, also has a mobile phone with broadband access.

            Statistics can mean whatever you want, if you have the right context.
            What we really need to know is, how many ONLY have Mobile broadband, and how many have ONLY fixed (line or wireless) broadband, and how many have BOTH.
            Only then can we have a decent argument about what people want and need.

            Quick fact check.
            In one part they say…
            “Total number of subscribers 12 358”
            Just a bit further down, they say…
            “In June 2013 there were 12,408,000 internet subscribers in Australia”

            Something is not right with those figures if they are out by 50,000 subscriptions somewhere.

          • As for those ADSL connections, the writing has been on Whirlpool for ages.
            Not enough ports (due in part to increasing housing density), RIMs, rain, noise on line, too long a line, and other complicating factors which people can no longer put up with.
            This of course puts up the argument of degrading copper, and why FTTN should not be an option.

            And as I said above, statistics can mean whatever you want, if you have the right context.

          • It makes you wonder why all those overseas Telco’s are rolling FTTN/FTTC out in 2013 with plans well into 2015 while at the same time spending millions researching and trialling FTTN technology to take it beyond VDSL2 speeds.

            They should have checked with you first I guess.

          • Perhaps its because, oh, I dunno, they started rolling out FttN years ago, and are looking at getting the best value for that waste of money that they can. It stands to reason that countries where FttN was their base choice of rollout that they would try to have it beneficial for as long as possible.

            But in the end its wasted effort, because they wont be able to keep up with demand. They might even manage to get speeds up to 250 Mbps, but what use is that when 1 Gbps is being rolled out elsewhere?

            Nobody here argues that FttN isnt an improvement over DSL level technology. The debate is over the fact that FttN has a limited shelf life, and no matter how much incumbents try to extend it, the time when it cant deliver is approaching fast.

            Why commit the Government to $29.5b for something that we will outgrow in 10 years, when you can commit to only a fraction more and get decades more out of the most costly part of the infrastructure?

            I wonder if you actually prefer that Australia continues to languish at around the 40th best internet in the world.

          • @GongGav

            ‘Perhaps its because, oh, I dunno, they started rolling out FttN years ago, and are looking at getting the best value for that waste of money that they can.’

            It seems that they are getting that best value and it is working well, you cannot say they are getting best value then say it is a waste of money, you cannot have it both ways.

            ‘ It stands to reason that countries where FttN was their base choice of rollout that they would try to have it beneficial for as long as possible.’

            The base choice is not FTTN the base choice is already laid infrastructure and deciding what is the best cost effective infrastructure that will utilise that infrastructure and give residences better than ADSL speeds.
            Only Australia has decided that the best use of existing infrastructure is to pay billions to the owners to turn it off.

            ‘But in the end its wasted effort, because they wont be able to keep up with demand.’

            Here comes the conjecture, so when does this kick in?

            ‘They might even manage to get speeds up to 250 Mbps, but what use is that when 1 Gbps is being rolled out elsewhere?’

            Because you don’t need 1 Gbps perhaps and even 50 Mbps is more than adequate?

            ‘The debate is over the fact that FttN has a limited shelf life, and no matter how much incumbents try to extend it, the time when it cant deliver is approaching fast.’

            It’s a pity they spend millions researching and feild testing how to make it faster then, which extends that ‘approaching fast’ argument.

            ‘Why commit the Government to $29.5b for something that we will outgrow in 10 years, when you can commit to only a fraction more and get decades more out of the most costly part of the infrastructure?’

            $45b minus $29.5b is not ‘a fraction more’ and assumes there is no upgrade path from FTTN to FTTP (when required), and 10 years is total conjecture.

          • Sure I can. As usual, you selectively pick what you want to read, and quibble over semantics or minor details.

            Lets spell it out though. For those countries that have had FttN for years already, they are trying to get more value out of what they are commited to. For us, because we havent started, we get no value, so its a waste of money.

            Basically, those countries with FttN are in a position where its cheaper to keep using FttN for a little longer, but its only delaying the inevitable. For us, because we havent started, we have zero time to get any benefits before we need to look at alternatives.

            You are so blinded to your ideals you cant see the basic flaws of a FttN rollout, the simplest of which is its limted lifespan.

            “Here comes the conjecture, so when does this kick in?”

            You dont actually read many posts do you? Internet use has grown at an incredibly consistent rate, in short, our basic speed needs double every two years. You can take that back to the early 90’s if you need, but the easiest way to show it is to recognise that in 1999 most people were on 56k dialup.

            If you double that speed every 2 years (roughly, 128k in 2001, 256k in 2003, 512k in 2005, 1 Mbps in 2007, 2 Mbps in 2009, 4 Mbps in 2011, 8 Mbps in 2013) you get to about where we are now. And the speeds stated that we need (Abbott says 12 Mbps now) and apply the same doubling every 2 years (so 25 Mbps in 2015, 50 Mbps in 2017, 100 MBps in 2019) then FttN struggles to keep up at that point.

            I’m a little generous, thinking that it will be some time around 2021 that we’ll need 100 Mbps as a base, but the numbers are statistically consistent. Its only a fool that thinks that sort of growth will magically stop overnight when there are 2 decades of evidence saying otherwise.

            Conjecture? Perhaps, but the numbers arent hard to follow.

            So I ask you this. Assuming they find a way to get 200 Mbps from FttN, what do they do when they need 400 MBps only 2 years later? Then 800 Mbps (call it 1 Gbps) after that? This is the limited time frame – 100 Mbps in 2021 will become 200 in 2023, 400 in 2025, and 800 in 2027. Less than a decade after its completed.

            And why would they bother finding solutions to needing 400 or 800 Mbps when FttH answers the questions a whole lot easier? This is the major argument I have against FttN. The lifespan is limited, because the problems FttN has dont need to be solved – FttH solves them instantly.

            I’m not blindly against FttN purely to want FttH at all costs. I’m against it because its a waste of money. Ironically, the same argument people like you have put against FttH for years. If we’d started a decade ago like we should have, I’d be arguing the same thing as you – find improvements to get that little more out of the investment.

            But we didnt, so starting now is a colossal waste of money, given the answer to those future problems is only $900m away.

          • @ haha yeah…

            “It’s a fool that believes trees grow to the skies.”

            Indeed, but alas we still have these fools who promte FttN nonetheless…

          • First of all, Asmodai, I think it’s laughable that you’re going to genuinely push the widely-discredited “wireless is the future” argument.

            Secondly, if you look at “PROPORTION of subscribers by connection type” CHARTS, it’s true that the PROPORTION of ADSL connections out of all connections falls and the PROPORTION of mobile wireless connections out of all connections rises. There’s a very simple explanation for that. The total number of all connections is rising, and the number of mobile wireless connections* is rising faster than the number of ADSL connections. *Obvious reasons for this is because of the increasing uptake of smartphones and tablets that have 3G and 4G connections, connections that are ADDITIONAL to a user’s ADSL connection.

            I mean in my household there are four smartphones and one adsl connection. Four years ago there were no smartphones and one adsl connection. Would you look at that… Four years ago the proportion of mobile wireless connections in my household was 0% and the proportion of ADSL connections was 100%. Now it’s 80% wireless and 20% ADSL. I wonder what’s going on?!

            Your argument is even more ridiculous when you actually look at the numbers of subscribers from June 2012 to June 2013 (“Internet subscribers by type of access connection” TABLE). The number of ADSL connections is actually RISING, from 4,632,000 to 4,787,000.

            Just because you fail to interpret the data correctly doesn’t mean the data says what you think it does.

            Bottom line, mobile wireless and fixed-line services are complementary, not mutually exclusive. Pretending otherwise is like denying climate science.

            You know, I actually thought you were one of the smarter Liberal stooges. On par with Michael. But I see you’re just another Fibroid.

  7. the only good use for a fibre is to connect it to the base stsation of a mobiles tower heeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehheeeheheheheheheheheheheheheheheh

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