Ohio Broadband Co-op Releases Feasibility Study RFP

In southwest Ohio, a new broadband cooperative is taking shape and taking steps to bring better connectivity to residents, schools, and businesses in their region. The Greene County Broadband Cooperative recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a consultant to conduct a broadband feasibility study. Responses are due October 27.

A Regional Effort

The organization wants to bring gigabit (1,000 Megabit per second) connections to the communities of Cedarville Township, Clifton Village, and surrounding areas. They are especially concerned about bringing fast, affordable, reliable Internet access to the Cedarcliff School District and students in the area. The cooperative also notes that they hope to expand access to other townships in the eastern areas of the county in the future.

Spectrum Cable, AT&T, and satellite providers offer Internet access to premises within the 39 square miles to be studied. There is a small amount of commercial fiber, but not enough to support the needs of the region. The RFP describes the situation as:

Service speeds provided in the villages and in limited rural areas are 12-50 mega-bits per-second. Much of the service area has either a single DSL provider or satellite Internet service, both of which fail to meet the FCC’s standard of broadband speed. Combined with the data usage caps of wireless and satellite Internet providers, most rural residents have an Internet access that is functionally useless. 

Cedarville and Clifton

The residential population of the area too be studied is approximately 9,700 which does not include an additional 3,700 students who attend Cedarville University. Because the University has its own fiber optic infrastructure, students attending the college don’t have the same connectivity problems as local residents. Of the students attending the local public schools, 64 percent use DSL at home that hampers they ability to complete online homework assignments.

The broadband cooperative recognizes that the area’s economic development prospects depend on better local connectivity. According to the RFP, businesses have left the area or chosen not to expand in Cedarville due to poor Internet access options.

Residents and businesses in Sibley and Renville Counties in rural south central Minnesota faced similar issues so they also formed a cooperative. Local farmers were some of the businesses hit especially hard by poor connectivity. The cooperative began with a fiber deplyment in the town centers and used fixed wireless to complement the reach of the network. The have since started to expand the fiber buildout. The cooperative serves subscribers in ten cities, 14 townships, and two counties. Read more about the cooperative in our 2016 report “RS Fiber: Fertile Fields for New Rural Internet Cooperative.”

What Will The Study Entail?

The RFP calls for a consultant who will handle:

  • Mapping and Needs Assessment (Customer market research)
  • Business and Financial Modeling
  • Governance and Ownership Strategy
  • Funding and Financial Analysis
  • Public/Private Partnership Development
  • Infrastructure Recommendations
  • Business Development Possibilities

Important Dates:

October 13: Questions from prospective applicants are due no later than 4:00 p.m. 

October 27: Proposals due no later than 4:00 p.m.

Read the full RFP here