WiFi and Los Angeles images from Shutterstock

Los Angeles could become the largest U.S. city to offer its residents free, citywide Wi-Fi service if a motion introduced by City Councilman Bob Blumenfield moves forward. Blumenfield chairs the¬†Innovation, Technology and General Services Committee, and he recently asked the city’s Information Technology Agency to research a free wireless Internet program.

Los Angeles, Internet, Wi-Fi

“We live in a world where success is increasingly tied to the ability to access information. The benefits of wireless Internet access across the city are numerous, from reducing startup costs for new businesses to ensuring that every student is able to access essential tools for learning,” said Blumenfield.

L.A. currently offers free Wi-Fi in its libraries and at LAX airport. Expanding the network to the entire city would follow the lead of other American cities that already offer free, citywide Wi-Fi, including Houston, Minneapolis, San Jose and Riverside, California. While a cost estimate is not available yet, a proposal six years ago by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was estimated by the Los Angeles Times to cost $54 million to $62 million to implement.

A report from the California Economic Summit states that free municipal Wi-Fi in Los Angeles will create jobs and boost the economy by upgrading and expanding the city’s digital infrastructure. The report concludes that “finding the best way to pay for closing the digital divide will be important to the Los Angeles and California economies, and bridging that gap would be an instant catalyst for a more vibrant, innovative economy.”

Via Fast Company

Images via Sean Ellis and Ebullient Enrapture