About Community Broadband Networks
The goal of the Los Angeles County Community Broadband Networks (CBN) is to provide free, high-speed internet to underserved homes in neighborhoods across LA County. These networks will be operated through private-public partnerships with Managed Service Providers selected through a competitive public solicitation process. The networks may also leverage assets owned by the County, City of Los Angeles, school districts, and other partner municipalities and agencies.
While internet service is available in most communities, there are challenges that have left many of our neighbors without access to high-speed internet that many take for granted:
- Unconnected Areas – There are thousands of addresses where existing internet service providers do not offer high-speed access. The current Federal Communications Commission definition of broadband is at least 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload (25/3) internet. These speeds are much slower than the fastest internet plans today and are not fast enough for a household to engage in distance learning, telework, or telemedicine – especially at the same time.
- Underserved Areas – These are defined as areas with speeds above 25/3 but lower than 100/20. The County is setting a target of 100 megabits per second or more for both upload and download (100/100).
- Unaffordable Plans – Even with subsidy programs such as the Affordable Connectivity Plan, residents are often forced to choose between slower plans that are covered by subsidies or pay additional monthly payments – sometimes more than twice the subsidized amount or more – for high-speed broadband plans.
- Mobile Only – Many of those disproportionately impacted are using their subsidy for a mobile smartphone plan, which primarily benefits the single user of that mobile phone, not the entire household.
On August 31, 2021, the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a motion to assess options for the County of Los Angeles to facilitate residential access to reliable broadband service in low-income communities that lack affordable, high-speed internet service.
On September 30, 2021, Internal Services Department (ISD) submitted a report outlining options for the Board to consider, including the option to deploy Community Broadband Networks.
On November 16, 2021, the Board unanimously approved a motion to advance the Community Broadband Networks by instructing ISD to coordinate implementation.
The County is considering several factors to determine which neighborhoods are best suited for a Community Broadband Network. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Level of Internet Adoption – Neighborhoods with low levels of internet adoption, including households that do not have a home internet subscription or are only connected through mobile devices.
- Equity and Inclusion – Neighborhoods that align with the objectives of the County’s Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative
- Availability of Public Assets – County assets like buildings and street poles are essential to deploying of a CBN; thus, the County will consider neighborhoods where critical assets are readily available
- Availability of Funding
The announced CBN pilot project areas are shown here, along with a link to a brief interest form.
The County is still developing its eligibility criteria. However, at a minimum, residents within the pilot neighborhoods who are eligible for federal subsidies through the Affordability Connectivity Program (ACP) will also be eligible for free service from the Community Broadband Networks. It is possible that other residents and/or businesses who reside in the selected neighborhoods may also be eligible for service.
Community Broadband Networks will offer service at no cost to eligible LA County residents who apply their Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) monthly benefit toward CBN service. The County will pay for the program using a variety of available funding sources.
The technologies used will depend on many factors, including neighborhood geography, types and density of buildings, availability of public assets, service reliability, and funding. The County is seeking the most reliable, high-speed internet infrastructure that balances the need to provide access to residents quickly, affordably, and sustainably. This could mean landlines, including fiber optic cabling, wireless radio, or a combination of both.
While the County has designed the Community Broadband Network initiative, MSPs will be contracted by the County to deploy and operate the Networks. The County will identify and select one or more qualified service providers to serve as the MSP through a two-phased competitive solicitation. For more information about the solicitation process, check out the project timeline.
The County began the process to qualify MSPs based on the March 2022 Request for Statement of Qualifications (RFSQ). The RFSQ will remain open for additional submissions from interested providers until September 13, 2027. Only MSPs who are qualified through this process will be eligible to submit competitive proposals for Community Broadband Network projects.
For more information on the two-phased competitive solicitation process, please visit https://doingbusiness.lacounty.gov/ade/
The Community Broadband Network program is still in its early implementation stages, and the Networks have yet to be deployed. For more major program milestones and to see when a Community Broadband Network may be available to you, see our projected timeline:
|March 2022||Request for Statement of Qualifications Released||[View]|
|May 2022||Deadline for Initial RFSQ Responses|
|September 2022||Release of Initial Shortlist of Qualified Vendors||[View]|
|January to June 2023||Work Orders Released|
|April to September 2023||Deadline for Work Order Proposals|
|Late 2023 to Early 2024||MSP(s) Selected and Contracts Finalized|
|2024||First Households Connected|