L.A. mayor wants muni WiFi by 2009

Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, wants municipal WiFi in his fair city, and he seems to have the wherewithal to make it happen. Such a project, covering 498 square miles of the sprawling city, would be a massive undertaking, costing somewhere around $54-$62 million. The city will probably partner with a private provider such as Google or Earthlink to pay for and manage the installation, and should be seeking bids this fall. Villaraigosa is already forming a working group, and plans on hiring an expert to iron out the details. Aware of the certain, ahem, problems encountered in San Francisco and other places, Villaraigosa says the initiative is "not going to be a study to put on the shelf." L.A. also owns its own street light and power poles and electric utility, overcoming an obstacle with Southern California Edison, which has denied WiFi installations a place on its own poles in other California cities. Of course, there are plenty of ways that a project this massive could go wrong, but if L.A. can pull this off it'll have some quite notable bragging rights, that's for sure.

[Thanks, Gary N]