2014 Grants Challenge

100% of LA online faster!

Get 100% of LA online faster! Allow citizens, institutions, and small biz to build our own networks and connections together!


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



What is your idea/project in more detail?

The word "Internet" is just short for "interconnected networks". Anyone can build their own home network, encourage all their neighbors to do the same, and once they connect with each other over shared fence lines (the global network industry calls this "peering"), they are suddenly part of their own community internet! By sharing in this property of all networks, we can have the biggest contiguous mesh of Internet connection points in the country. We only each pay for our own network's installation, maintenance costs, and long distance transit. Today we are paying up to 20 times that much, just to rent temporary access from a cable or telephone company's proprietary network. We should each have our own internet instead.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

A lot of the open standards hardware and open source software required for these private network deployments already exist. We just need to package it all together, in a way that makes it easy for anyone without network expertise to install it in their own homes or offices.

We will also provide legal templates for communities to incorporate their own 501c12 cooperatives or 501c4 community welfare networks, so that local experts can be paid for their professional services in connecting and maintaining these neighborhood networks. We have a pilot 501c4 project starting in the Northeast Los Angeles region, NELA-ISC.Net, where we will test our templates and open source tools in real world deployments. We welcome all other LA region communities to start their own neighborhood networks as well, and connect directly with each other. The downtown LA community in particular has great access to multiple global carrier transit providers, at carrier neutral facilities like One Wilshire, where connecting through neighbors directly will be much cheaper than AT&T or Time Warner.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?

Global competitive market access today requires fast broadband Internet connections. South Koreans visit major American cities and feel like they're in a remote rural area, where Internet speeds slow down to a crawl. If the US and its largest global cities (like LA) want to catch up, or at least attract digerati tourism, then they need to explore every option to connect all their citizens to gigabit or faster speeds. Renting this core infrastructure from cable and telco monopolists will simply not suffice. Silicon Beach will not wait.

If LA wants to become a global startup hub by 2050, a Silicon Beach to truly rival the Valley farther north, then it needs to start getting connected now. We can't wait on stodgy old monopolist business models to support new markets or civic innovations. If we're lucky, we wont have any need for the old cable and telco monopolists at all before 2050. Their anti-neutrality extortionist tricks will no longer extract anything from our local economy.

Whom will your project benefit?

LA area residents will benefit from faster Internet services at lower costs. Some families who couldn't afford any Internet access at all under cable and telco duopoly pricing will gain cost effective network access at home for the first time.

The poorest neighborhood families will receive network hardware and cooperative membership donations and subsidies, so that their home communications infrastructure can be built for them by local experts at little to no cost.

Local telecommunications experts will have a wider range of employment opportunities, in community-run networks closer to home.

Civic and nonprofit institutions will benefit from more direct local constituent access online.

Local businesses will benefit from more direct access to their customer base, with less costly and annoying dependencies on remote third party service providers.

New innovative startups will thrive in any area of LA where open Internet access is fast, cheap, and ubiquitous. Civic and social startups may see the most benefits from direct connections to potential customers nearby.

LA tourism, especially by the well funded global digerati, will benefit from fast ubiquitous access in all the local vacation spots. Our great weather and global branding status will bring them in for vacation, but free WiFi and gigabit broadband will help keep them here while they work remotely.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Any local nonprofit or government institution can transform their own offices, buildings, and campuses into institutional hubs for local community network mesh peer connections and online services. Modern low cost and power-sipping hardware designed for laptops and tablets can easily be transformed into core router and data services infrastructure, all at lower gross long-term costs than any remote Internet cloud services. These online services can be situated directly within the places where they are most used. This both lowers online request latency and increases service reliability. During disasters of any form, in situ renewable power generation and backup batteries can keep this community infrastructure operational while the metropolitan infrastructure is being restored. These institutions and services should always reside at the core of our community networks, not at remote data centers far north or east of Los Angeles County.

Open standards hardware and open source software vendors can each contribute to designs for low cost reliable community network infrastructure. Data Roads Foundation constituents in each community can serve as a "standards group", to determine the open standards most appropriate for implementation in their local area.

Data Roads Foundation is already partnering with several open source and mesh hardware projects like, Commotion Wireless, Freedom Stack, Freedom Box, Open Telco, Guardian Project, Calyx Institute, and several open source mesh routing software projects. We are currently negotiating collaborations with several California based network hardware and maintenance service vendors. Anything that proprietary vendors refuse to provide can be created by and for ourselves, by using open technologies in our own communities.

How will your project impact the LA2050 CONNECT metrics?

Rates of volunteerism

Voting rates by race

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Median travel time to work

Attendance at cultural events

Number of public transit riders

Participation in neighborhood councils

Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)

Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)

Transit-accessible housing and employment (the share of housing units and percentage of jobs that are located within a half-mile of transit) (Dream Metric)

Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)

Attendance at public/open street gatherings (Dream Metric)

Residential segregation (Dream Metric)

Access to free wifi (Dream Metric)

Telecommuting offset to all other travel infrastructure loads.

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Pervasive Internet connectivity and local online community services affect every single metric in every LA 2050 goal.

Even when workers do not telecommute from home, higher speed connections allow businesses to utilize coworking offices in multiple regions near transit hubs, which allow groups of workers to come together in places more convenient and transit friendly than any one office next to a full parking lot.

The net offsets to transportation system loads created by telecommuting and co-working hubs provide huge benefits to the local environment and infrastructure maintenance loads.

Studies show that anyone who commutes more than 45 minutes in each direction is less satisfied with their life overall, so reduced congestion and less stressful commutes have positive effects on both home life and general productivity. Reducing commutes just 5 minutes each way gives a worker back up to 20 hours of their private life each year. Public transit commutes enabled by coworking hubs gives them much more time to read and have fun than sit behind a wheel. They are also much more likely to stay fit by walking or biking to their closest transit stops.

Communications networks are the backbone of every civic and business organizing effort in the city. This application process itself requires a computer with Internet access!

Civic engagement, education, volunteerism, informed voters, government response time, employment, and socialization are all much easier to plan and coordinate online. None of this can happen for every LA citizen equally unless Internet access is ubiquitous to every home, family, and institution in the region.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

1. Number of new family homes with online access to local civic and market resources, where such access was nonexistent or unaffordable before.

2. Cost reductions amortized over life of network hardware, especially for local civic and nonprofit institutions and infrastructure.

3. Increased number of well paying technology jobs from community networks, and the new startup businesses they attract.

4. Number of civic, social, and business startups that declare community broadband networks as a primary reason for local office location selection.

5. Increases in tourism and technical conferences, especially among the new global digerati.

6. Increases in telecommuting and public transportation use, due to community high speed networks enabling efficient remote work and coworking near transportation hubs.

7. Lower response times for government services, due to fast and efficient online communications with constituents -- instead of slow and inefficient onsite interviews, paperwork, or phone trees.

8. Lower safety and emergency service response times, due to reliable and ubiquitous community network alerts and feedback systems.

9. Higher rates of volunteerism, due to more free time saved from long commutes.

10. Higher charitable donations per capita from better income reliability, due to increased local technology industry education and hiring.

11. Higher voter turnout due to greater education on the issues, and more frequent constituent communications online.

12. Additional square meters of public area where limited WiFi is freely available, with no bandwidth throttling for community cooperative members or mesh route contributors.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

1. Communications systems are core business and home infrastructure.

I have set up and maintained over 5 development studio networks and 3 home networks. Whenever any network gets disconnected, either internally or from the outside global Internet, office and home productivity all plummets. The Internet is vital infrastructure on par with water and electricity in the 21st century. It is absolutely necessary today for doing any business in technology or online retail.

2. Owning durable goods is always better than renting them.

Rentier monopolist middlemen extract resources from the economy without investing much of it back in quality improvements. Multiple reports have shown that cable franchise monopolies like Comcast extract as much as 95% margins from cable and Internet subscriptions as profit, with little to no reinvestment in infrastructure. Regardless of their reinvestment rates, all their investments are taken as private gains and never provided as public goods. This means building our own network infrastructure is always more cost effective, even if the required loans extract a ridiculous amount of interest. Even at 95% interest loss per loan payment, that's still infinitely greater equity return than rental payments.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

The core of the global Internet already runs on mesh routing software systems like OSPF, and ad hoc wireless mesh routing software like OLSR has already been tested internationally. This open source software all runs on open standards hardware like desktop computers and laptops -- the same hardware that is being shrunk into low power tablets, phones, and embedded systems today. The only remaining task is to package up all these innovations together, in a way that anyone can easily install and maintain these connections in their own homes and offices at falling costs.

Once we start deploying these legal and technology tools packages to all LA residents and institutions, the network will grow very quickly. Each new wire on a fence line or radio on a roof is another mesh connection point in our own community Internet. We don't need any big remote controlled cable or telco company to come in to build our networks for us. Their limited full-time maintenance staff can only install new infrastructure at a very slow pace. We can each simultaneously build networks for ourselves in our own homes and offices, and connect them to each other immediately upon completion. We don't have to wait for anybody else.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The US FCC has been a captured regulator since inception, or before inception if you count their predecessor FRA as a separate entity. They may try to limit our ability to connect with each other directly, in favor of the incumbent telco and cable monopolists they serve exclusively today. Their auctions of our public commons resources have never been in our collective public interests. We will use existing open spectrum license and "light license" structures to avoid proprietary exclusive spectrum, as previously allocated by the FCC to invisible private fiefdoms against all public interests. Partner organizations with less restrictions on their political activities can also petition their US government to force the FCC to start acting in public interests, instead of for their own "post regulator career" private gains.

LA City officials have been begging the cable and telco incumbents to install a new exclusive fiber franchise, in the guise of the LACBN RFP process. They may fight against our ability to build better networks for ourselves and our neighbor communities, because their lobbyist monopolists don't like to see any remote form of "competition" on the horizon, especially not from their own indentured customers. They claim that they can only make "affordable infrastructure investments" if they are given monopoly market powers in return. We will reveal these fallacious claims for what they are: fear of any real market alternatives to their inferior service provision. They pay your government representatives to pick them as communications market winners, and everyone else as losers. We will reveal the truth behind their political lies: they don't want any real "free market" that they can't control entirely.

Herd mentality and basic network market ignorance may keep LA residents and business owners from adopting community network ownership over perpetual rentier access. People may continue to rent mere Internet access, instead of buying their own networks, more out of stagnant momentum than any actual costs. We can provide everyone with cooperative memberships and equity finance payment plans that resemble their current subscriptions, but still save them a great deal in long term costs. If T-Mobile can call themselves an "un-carrier" without irony, then we can certainly call each of our local community network partners an "un-ISP".

What resources does your project need?

Network/relationship support

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Quality improvement research