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Manchester, Connecticut, was the first city in the state to build its own fiber-optic Institutional Network (I-Net). Now, the community has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) of Homes and Businesses. Responses are due by December 6, 2016.
Much To "Gain"
The community took advantage of the “Municipal Gain” Law, which guarantees space on utility poles and conduit to house its I-Net. A private provider took the town to court over the law, which came to a successful resolution in the early 2000s.
As we reported last summer, the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) and the State Broadband Office (SBO) sought clarification on the state statute. The question is whether or not the space reserved on utility poles in municipal Rights-of-Way (ROW) can be used for municipal fiber-optic network deployment. While the question seems simple on its face, implementing it has raised a number of questions from pole owners and municipalities. The OCC and SBO filed a petition last summer with the Public Utility Regulatory Agency (PURA) asking for clarification.
Manchester is located in the center of the state just ten miles east of Hartford. The town’s population is approximately 58,000 residents and there are 22,000 parcels in Manchester on its 250 miles of city streets. While it has roots in textiles and the silk industry, it is now home to a number of large shopping outlets and plazas. The community also has a co-working space in the downtown area, Axis901, for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Having experienced the benefits of its I-Net, Manchester wants to expand those benefits to businesses and residents, so is exploring the possibilities. According to the RFI:
The Town is interested in a vendor’s perspective of the positive economic development value of their proposal. Toward this end, information on a Responder's offering will likely result in a dialog with the Town's Board of Director's Broadband Economic Development Subcommittee.
Holland, Michigan, continues to pursue better local connectivity and hopes to find a private sector partner interested in using publicly owned fiber.
Recently, the city released a Request for Information (RFI) to reach out to potential partners who might be interested in working with the city for a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) project. Responses are due December 20, 2016.
Developing Over Time
The community of approximately 33,000 people deployed fiber-optic infrastructure in the early 1990s for power smart grid capability for their municipal electric utility. Since then, Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) has expanded the network to provide connectivity for local school facilities and wholesale Internet services to a few local businesses that require high capacity data services. Over the years, Holland has increased the network to about 76 miles of backbone fiber and more than 150 total miles, which includes laterals.
After engaging in a pilot project, HBPW released a study that analyzed possible business models and routes for a FTTP network designed to provide Gigabit per second (1,000 Megabits per second) capacity. Cost estimates for two separate options - one to provide service to all of HPBW’s service area and one only to premises within the city - came in at $63.2 million and $29.8 million respectively. The study assumed a “hybrid open access” model in which Holland would offer retail services but also lease excess capacity to private providers who also want to offer services to residents or businesses.
Looking At All The Options
Now that Holland has completed a study that provides one option, the community is interested in hearing what potential partners have to offer. The city seeks a partnership that:
Chesterton, Indiana, plans to deploy a dark fiber network to serve municipal facilities, anchor institutions, and local businesses. Like their neighbor to the south, Valparaiso, they hope to boost economic development, improve local services, and help the community compete in the race to draw in new industries. “We learned if we didn’t have that in the ground ready to go, we couldn’t compete,” said Town Manager Bernie Doyle.
Taking It One Step At A Time
The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in late July as part of Phase II of the project christened the Chesterton Fiber Optic Network (CFON). The community is looking for an entity to operate and maintain, provide last mile connectivity, and perform other services typical of an Operator. Late last year, the community released the Phase I Request for Information (RFI), for a firm to design the fiber backbone of approximately 15 miles. They chose a company in March. The final phase will seek out a firm to construct the network.
Chesterton wants Gigabit connectivity for municipal, public safety, education, and other public buildings. The network must also provide similar services to community anchor institutions and local businesses; the community wants to attract high-tech, bio-medical, and financial firms to diversify its local economy.
The community's priorities include retaining ownership, increasing economic development, and deploying an expandable network. Chesterton wants to have the entire project lit and offering services by June 1, 2017.
Future Funds, Present Projects
Like Valparaiso, Chesterton is banking on tomorrow's dollars to finance today’s investment. The city will use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to fund the project. TIF will permit the city to finance the network with future gains in property or sales tax expected to from the geographic area that will obtain the redevelopment or infrastructure project. They will be able to borrow the funds, build the network, then use the funds generated from the network to pay off the debt.
Warren County, Kentucky, issued a Request for Information (RFI) in June to find partners in order to improve connectivity for local businesses and residents. County officials want to develop a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network and are willing to consider both publicly owned and privately owned options. RFI responses are due July 8th.
The community has prioritized the following in its RFI:
- A community-wide FTTP work to serve both businesses and homes
- An open access model to encourage competition
- A financially sustainable network
- A network that provides affordable base-level service for everyone
There are approximately 120,500 people in Warren County with about half living in the county seat, Bowling Green. After Louisville and Lexington, Bowling Green is the most populous. Located in the south central area of the state, Warren County is about 548 square miles. This region of the state had a relatively high growth rate of 24 percent between 2003 and 2014 and Warren County officials want to continue that trend with better connectivity.
In addition to Western Kentucky University, there are several other colleges and technical colleges in the region. STEM education at both the college and K-12 levels is prevalent in Warren County. The area is home to the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematic and Science, which was named best high school in America three years in a row by Newsweek.
There is a range of industry, including finance, health care, agriculture, and manufacturing. The community seeks to improve connectivity to retain a number of its employers as well as diversify its economy further, encourage better services for residents, and spark competition.
Get the details on Warren County's RFI by accessing their Bids Calendar. Responses to this RFI are due by July 8th. You can also contact Brenda Hale with questions: brenda.hale(at)ky.gov.
Two new Requests for Information (RFI) were recently released in Palo Alto, California, and Pikeville, Kentucky.
Pikeville is open to both public ownership and Gigabit service via privately owned infrastructure. This community of approximately 7,000 residents wants Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) for businesses, community anchor institutions, municipal facilities, and residents. The regional Appalachian Mountain community, with many jobs lost due to the shrinking coal industry, is turning to connectivity as a way to spur economic development.
Pikeville’s RFI describes how service from existing providers is expensive and "sporadic." This RFI calls for a partner that will help the community develop an open access, affordable, financially sustainable network. In drafting the RFI, Pikeville’s officials made sure to note that low-income residents will not be left behind; bringing this asset to disadvantaged residents is a priority.
The city is the county seat of Pike County and home to a number of colleges as well as several large healthcare facilities. City, county, and federal government facilities are also located in Pikeville and need better connectivity. In 2015, the city obtained a $5 million grant for technology-based training and degree programs for residents in the area. A $1 million grant supplied funding for a Broadband Technology Center in Pikeville. Now the city needs fast, affordable, reliable Internet network infrastructure to complement the Center and to move the local workforce toward more information based industries.
- Letter of Intent Due: May 23, 2016
- Questions Due: May 25, 2016
- Final RFI Submissions Due: June 3, 2016
The city’s website has more information and details.
Palo Alto, California
Palo Alto is a Silicon Valley city of 67,000 residents; daytime workers coming into the community swell the population to approximately 125,000. Incumbents include Comcast and AT&T who have intimated they might be interested in bringing fiber to the city, but have yet to act. Community leaders are exploring all options with this RFI.
“The Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana” could soon be the gateway to high-speed Internet access in Indiana. The city of Bloomington, Indiana, has undertaken several projects and events in order to empower the community to find solutions to its connectivity problems.
The city of Bloomington issued a Request For Information (RFI) for a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network on March 31, 2016. City leaders have taken this next step in order to make high-speed Internet access affordable and available to all of the city’s 80,000 people.
A Bull’s Eye: The RFI
Unlike the often-mentioned Request For Proposal (RFP), an RFI does not establish a plan of action. Instead, the RFI creates a procedure for Internet service providers (ISPs), contractors, and other companies to provide information on how they would create a network to best meet the needs of the city. The city's deadline to answer any questions from interested firms is April 28th and RFI responses are due on May 12th.
Rick Dietz spoke with us the day after the city released the RFI. Dietz is the Director of ITS for the city of Bloomington. He described how the city had come to its decision to pursue a community network. The mayor and city council hired a consultant and held a symposium on high-speed networks, before releasing the RFI.
Dietz repeated the three key components that are integral to the RFI:
- Community-wide connectivity, to enable everyone to use the network.
- Community-control, to ensure the network meets the community’s needs.
- Financial sustainability to the community in the future.
Without these principles, a new network will likely not be right for Bloomington. The RFI calls for any incumbent providers, local providers, or others to describe their ideas to achieve these goals, whether through a private public partnership or not. The City has taken a number of steps to enable this process to go smoothly.
The February Symposium
Siklu, known for its wireless technology innovation, is now in the process of granting a number of "Gigabit Awards." Their goal is to offer municipalities an opportunity to use their high-speed wireless technology.
Who Can Compete?
Communities who can offer quick deployment and meet the company's qualifying criteria will win the equipment package. A municipality will need the following to be considered for a "Gigabit Award":
1. An existing fiber network with accessible PoPs, and the ability to provide internet services over this network
2. The capability to install (internally or with a partnering ISP) the Gigabit links within a tight deployment schedule
3. Free services to underserved locations will be considered as an advantage: affordable housing, community sites, school facilities
The Siklu equipment package includes:
1. 10 gigabit links to connect buildings (MDUs, anchor institutions etc.)
2. Wireless planning, training and support services
Speed Is Of The Essence
The RFI submission deadline of March 14th is fast approaching and "Gigabit Award" announcements will begin on March 21st. Rollout plan submissions, approvals, and kick offs will all happen in April with completion goal scheduled for May 31st, 2016.
For more details, download the Gigabit Award Checklist, which contains information on RFIs, or contact Siklu's Boris Maysel at boris.m(at)siklu.com.
Hagerstown, population 40,000, recently released a Request for Information to field ideas to develop existing infrastructure for residents and local businesses.
According to the press release:
"The interest in our City and the potential shown for our market from industry professionals working with municipal broadband initiatives has been very promising. We look forward to moving ahead in collaboration with private partners to bring affordable technology to Hagerstown," says Mayor Dave Gysberts.
The RFI identifies five goals:
Goal 1: Create a 1 GB and/or greater fiber network in a targeted commercial corridor known as “City Center Hagerstown” to foster innovation, drive job creation, and stimulate economic growth
Goal 2: Establish free wireless networks in parks and public spaces across the City, with primary focus on the following areas: City Park, Pangborn Park, Hellane Park, Wheaton Park, and Fairgrounds Park.
Goal 3: Evaluate the opportunity to expand wired/wireless services to areas beyond our City Center urban core to include underserviced residential areas, business parks, and/or target commercial areas.
Goal 4: Provide connectivity opportunities from the proposed fiber paths for the existing City Police camera surveillance system including expansion into other developing areas of the City.
Goal 5: Establish a presence within the community in the form of co‐location facility and/or business branch office space in which to conduct business.
According to the RFI, the city is seeking entities that will finance the majority of the network themselves or identify sources of funding. View the full RFI on the city website.
Lexington, Kentucky, the second biggest city in the state with the second slowest broadband speeds in the nation, has announced plans to issue a request for information for a gigabit network within the next six months. The idea is to gauge interest from private providers in forming a public private partnership and get at least a rough estimate of the costs and benefits of a city-wide fiber optic network.
The Lexington area currently has average download speeds of 16.2 Mbps, which puts it 38th among cities in Kentucky alone. While many in Lexington have been unhappy with slow speeds, poor reliability, and high prices provided by the incumbent Time Warner for years, the local government appeared divided last spring over the potential Comcast-Time Warner merger. Some felt, inexplicably, that service would improve after the second most hated company in America was acquired by the most hated. But others realized the need for competition, and during the course of renegotiating Time Warner’s expiring cable franchise over the last year, city staff have been meeting with private providers to determine how to improve access.
Mayor Jim Gray said he would like Lexington to become a gigabit city, though he stopped short of endorsing a fully public network along the lines of EPB in Chattanooga:
"We're going to be looking for partners who can create competition and who are willing to serve neighborhoods throughout Lexington," Gray said. "Increasing our Internet speed is crucial, but so is tackling the digital divide."