Request for Proposals For Regional Broadband Feasibility Study
The Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is issuing a Request for Proposals seeking the services of a consultant/firm to perform a Broadband Feasibility Study for the three-county region. A selection committee, comprised of stakeholders from each county, will then review the proposals and select from those bids the best proposal.
The selected consultant will be commissioned to put together the Study with a focus on providing enhanced and reliable Broadband Internet Service to rural areas lacking appropriate coverage, as well as urban centers that require increased speed and access. Eastgate, along with its partners from Ashtabula, Mahoning, and Trumbull County, will work in tandem with the consultant to ensure the completion of the Study to the satisfaction of the review committee, as well as provide any technical assistance that might be necessary. Upon completion, Eastgate will pursue the implementation goals outlined in the Study and seek further funding (from grants and other local sources) to do so.
General Scope of Services
The scope of work to be performed by the consultant is as follows:
- Technology and Trends Review. Conduct a review of current trends in telecommunications technologies and the industries they support. Assess what will be required to develop any forthcoming broadband network and the predicted material lifespan to safeguard against obsolescence.
- Policy Analysis. Completion of a review of the current and forthcoming legislative and regulatory policy will also be performed to ensure that the proposed public network and service complies with and accounts for any statutes that govern how public broadband is regulated.
- Service and Infrastructure Analysis. Complete an analysis of the incumbent Internet service providers (ISPs) and existing broadband infrastructure in the region. Provide a clear picture of the state of broadband in the study area and how any forthcoming network will fit into that landscape. Analysis should identify service models that could be utilized in the region. Outcomes will include GIS maps detailing the physical extent of fiber-optic lines, service areas, incumbency, and level of service provided.
- Site Analysis. Complete a site analysis to discover whether existing public assets and/or land can be used to better facilitate network construction and operation.
- Market Analysis. Complete a market analysis to serve as the basis for determining penetration and adoption rates, foreseeable competition, and sensible pricing for services provided.
- Needs Assessment and Outreach. Complete a needs assessment for larger-scale use of broadband for area businesses, industrial/manufacturing industries, and other anchor economic development institutions. Receive and take into consideration stakeholder concerns and input and ensure the needs of the business community are known and met. This will be facilitated using Online surveys, community anchor interviews, enterprise business interviews, and small and medium business interviews. The information gleaned from this outreach effort will then be considered alongside a review of broadband improvement efforts that have already occurred regionally and throughout Ohio.
- Utility Formation Study. Prepare, assess, and plan for creating an entity to govern the network once it has been completed and provide service to customers. Eastgate will work in tandem with Ashtabula, Mahoning, and Trumbull County, as well as a consortium of political subdivisions as a cooperative to construct and maintain the physical network and provide Internet service. Examine processes and the delineation of what will be required–both in terms of finances and physical footprint– to successfully own and operate a public broadband utility.
- Programming and Finance Evaluation. Evaluate financing options that are available to the region for funding the construction, implementation, and subsequent operation of the network. Develop a cost model for the network, including one-time and ongoing capital expenditures; operations, network operations, field services, staffing, billing, and customer service. Delineate items such as customer growth rates, competitive pricing schedules, and overall financial sustainability. It is important to note that all programming and financing evaluations should be focused on the operation by eligible entities including units of government, non-profits, colleges, and universities, for example.
- Project Identification. Develop a set of initial projects for the region to embark upon to begin the creation of the fiber-optic network. These projects will consider all the information gathered so far concerning the existing fiber-optic infrastructure, any gaps in the same, and the overall landscape of broadband in the region. A result of which is, a comprehensive determination of how these projects may be deployed, financed, and sustained.
- Final Report. Develop a final report. As a result, the Eastgate region will be equipped with the impetus and tools necessary to proceed with more concrete and actionable steps toward the implementation of publicly owned and -operated fiber-optic broadband.
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