LA wants to pave its streets with gigabit broadband (on somebody else’s dime)

The city of Los Angeles isn’t waiting for Google(s goog) to grace its neighborhoods with fiber. It’s decided to move forward with its own plans for a metro fiber-to-the-home network, according to Ars Technica. If LA’s proposal stands as described, however, it may be more a pipe dream than real fiber pipe.

LA Information Technology Agency GM Steve Reneker told Ars that the city council will issue a request for proposal (RFP) for a fiber-access network that will reach every one of the city’s 3.5 million residents and all of its businesses. What the city won’t do is foot the bill. The city estimates the cost of the network will fall between $3 billion and $5 billion, which would be paid for by its builder, according to Ars. In exchange, the city will expedite the permitting and inspection process, though it might concede to waive those governmental fees.

The provider would get to run the network as its own business, not as a city utility, but LA is sticking on a bunch of stipulations that would make any red-blooded American carrier cringe. Not only would the provider have to connect all buildings, but also it would have to offer a free service delivering speeds 2 Mbps to 5 Mbps to any resident that asked, and it would have to open the network to other ISPs, selling capacity and connections on a wholesale basis, according to Ars. It could charge for higher tiers of service up to gigabit.

LA seems to have a very high opinion of itself. The way the deal is structured, providers like Google couldn’t even compete because it doesn’t serve all neighborhoods in its Fiber rollouts and focuses on residential. While a traditional wireline or cable operator might be interested, they would be forced to bow to requirements they face in no other market — all in exchange for faster permits and perhaps some revenue for carrying city traffic and hosting its data centers.