Moline is restarting its search for a new high speed broadband provider – this time with help from consultants – in order to take a fresh look at the City’s needs and available services. City Council members have sought to ensure that all residents and businesses within the city have access to at least 1 gigabyte fiber service since at least 2019.

 

However, failed negotiations with one company and proposals from other providers that didn’t meet the requirements the City laid out in the RFP it issued in December 2020 have forced staff to hit the reset button on the search.

Later this week, 70 City Administrator Bob Vitas and corporate counsel from the firm Ancel-Glink will meet with consulting firm CTC Technology & Energy to relaunch the fiber service provider search. The City Council recently approved spending $25,000 to hire a consultant that will:

  • Conduct a broadband needs analysis for all potential users within the City’s boundaries.
  • Provide a report detailing those needs and recommendations for how to proceed with a service provider search.
  • Assist the City with a new Request for Proposals based on the completed needs assessment.
  • Review and evaluate the vendor submitted proposals to the RFP and recommend which provider best meets the RFP criteria.
  • Help the City identify and apply for federal and state grants to assist in covering the cost of new, city-wide broadband coverage.

Vitas said previous negotiations and RFPs failed primarily because none of the proposals fully met the requirements for coverage the City is seeking. Those stipulations are:

  • High speed broadband coverage of at least 1 gigabyte for all residents and businesses from border-to-border.
  • At least 90 percent of the fiber infrastructure be buried.
  • Provider must offer full range of services, including high speed internet, phone and television service.

In February 2021, three firms responded to the RFP with a fourth firm responding in March.
Moline Searching for New City-Wide Broadband Service Provider

None of the proposals met all of the City’s requirements, however, Vitas said. Most critically, each of the proposals showed significant gaps in providing service to the City’s low-and-moderate income areas.

After this week’s meeting with the consulting firm, Vitas said the goal is to complete a needs-assessment as quickly as possible and move forward with a second – more informed – Request for Proposals before the end of the first quarter of 2022, with a goal of selecting a provider that will launch the project toward the end of the second quarter.

This timeline will also allow the City to identify potential state and federal grants to help cover the cost of the new agreement.

“It is very important to get the implementation of a network right,” Vitas wrote in a memorandum to Council earlier this year. “Moving forward quickly with a service provider without understanding the marketplace, the needs of the community, technology changes and best practices could result in failure of this initiative. The primary goal is to provide the best-possible service to our city at the lowest-possible cost to taxpayers. Speed counts in broadband service; not in choosing the right service provider.”

Moline Searching for New City-Wide Broadband Service Provider
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
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