Summit County Seeks RFIs for Fiber Project: Responses Due Jan. 9

Summit County in central Colorado is exploring how to bring Gigabit connectivity (1,000 Megabits per second) to homes and businesses in its region. 

The County recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to participate in a public-private partnership to bring a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to local businesses and residents. The County is also looking for a private partner to help deploy wireless broadband service. The deadline for submitting RFI responses is Jan. 9, 2017.

In its RFI, the County said it:

“[R]ecognizes that it may be economically challenging to deploy fiber-to-the premises infrastructure throughout the County and thus understands that early investments may focus on population centers in the County. The County’s hope, however, is that world-class networks will eventually expand to the less populous areas of the County.”  

The county indicated it is seeking proposals from a potential private sector partner who would be interested in establishing a long-term relationship. 

Summit County’s RFI comes a year after citizens voted in a referendum to opt out of Colorado SB 152, the state law that prevents local governments from providing service or partnering with private sector partners. More than two dozen local communities opted out of SB 152 this past fall, bringing the total to 95 Colorado communities, which have chosen to reclaim local telecommunications authority. 

Summit County Overview 

Summit County (pop. 29,000) is nestled among the high peaks of the Colorado Rockies and is about an hour’s drive from the Denver metro area. About 80 percent of the county’s 630 square miles are federal public land; its governmental roots date back to 1861. Summit County is a bustling regional tourist center with world-class ski resorts and recreational areas a key industry. 

Immediately after the vote, we spoke with Brian Waldes, Director of Finance and Information Technology in Breckenridge, the county seat. Voters in the city also chose to opt out of SB 152.

In its RFI appeal, the County noted:

“Currently, access to reliable broadband connectivity in some parts of the County is sporadic, and many consumers must settle for inadequate speeds. Many tourists travel from regions with superior bandwidth and expect this connectivity to continue without interruption when they come to Summit County for vacation.”

With an upgraded broadband network, the County would be able to solve that problem and provide uninterrupted connectivity for tourists traveling from Denver and elsewhere in the region, the RFI document maintains. 

Growing List of RFIs

Summit County joins a growing list of communities across the nation that are issuing RFIs and RFPs (Request for Proposals) in hopes of gaining high-speed, reliable, affordable Internet connectivity for their residents, businesses, and public institutions.

In recent months, we've written about such efforts in, Alford, Massachusetts;  Manchester, Connecticut; and Pikeville, Kentucky