RFQ for Cable System Extensions

Procurement Type: RFQ
Procurement Number: 2015-MBI-03
Date Issued: June 19, 2015
Date Due: July 31, 2015
Status: Closed

Summary:

The MBI seeks responses from eligible high-speed Internet providers regarding the Commonwealth’s interest in supporting expansion of residential broadband internet (and potentially video) access that meets or exceeds the FCC broadband benchmark (25Mbps download/3Mbps upload) in partially-served communities in Western Massachusetts. MBI intends to make up to $5 million dollars in state bond funds available for this program to expand residential broadband access in ten communities with existing broadband infrastructure that does not serve the entire community (hereinafter referred to as a “Broadband Expansion Project”). The MBI has been designated to collaborate with towns, providers, and policymakers to expand broadband access to more households in these partially-served towns within the MassBroadband 123 footprint.

The MBI is developing a program to foster public-private partnerships and offset a portion of the costs of expanding beyond the existing cable network in these communities, helping more Western Massachusetts residents gain access to high-speed Internet service. The MBI is permitted by state law to provide grants to public, non-profit or for-profit entities to finance and acquire equipment or other property to build out these networks. The MBI’s main objective is to develop a solution to offer broadband access for households and businesses that maximizes the impact of limited public resources, leverages other sources of funding (to the extent necessary and appropriate), and promotes economic growth in the region.

Schedule:

  • June 19, 2015: Request for Qualifications Issued
  • July 31, 2015 3:00pm EDT: Responses Due

Downloads:

Supplemental Information Requests:

Responses Received:

The MBI has completed the cable system extensions program RFQ process. The MBI qualified two companies – Comcast and Matrix Design Group. Each company submitted a responsive statement of their qualifications, capacity and experience with building and operating rural broadband networks. The MBI did not request detailed financial information or seek binding commitments during the RFQ process.

The MBI has entered the next phase of engagement with Comcast and Matrix that will involve extensive due diligence and evaluation of detailed information that will be requested from both companies. This information will provide a foundation that will enable the MBI to determine how best to invest state bond funds to extend broadband coverage in the partially-served towns within this program.

Please follow the links below if you would like to view the initial, preliminary information submitted by Comcast and Matrix in response to the RFQ. Please note that Comcast’s response includes certain redacted information that it requested be designated as sensitive, proprietary information. The redacted information was not reviewed by the MBI during the prequalification process. The MBI intends to engage in grant award agreements with any selected providers at the conclusion of the due diligence phase.

Comcast Documents:

Matrix Design Group Documents:

Board Vote on Recommendation for Comcast Grant Negotiations for Montague and Hardwick

At a joint meeting of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Board of Directors and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute Board of Directors held on June 30, 2016, the Boards voted to authorize the MBI staff to negotiate a grant to Comcast to expand broadband access to residents in Hardwick and Montague. This action will conclude the process for determining the grantee for Broadband Extensions Program funds in Hardwick and Montague. A letter outlining a process by which either town may opt out of the Broadband Extensions Program by July 13, 2016 was issued on June 30th.

DTC Commissioner Recommendation Regarding Matrix and Comcast Grant Proposals for Montague and Hardwick

The Commissioner of the Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC), Karen Charles Peterson, has released a report regarding the MBI recommendation on the proposals submitted by Comcast and Matrix Design Group to secure state grant funding to expand broadband infrastructure to unserved residents in Hardwick and Montague.

DTC Commissioner Charles Peterson hosted a public meeting for interested residents on Thursday, June 23rd in Amherst.  Commissioner Charles Peterson’s recommendation will be submitted to the MBI Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the MassTech Board of Directors. This process will conclude with a decision by the MBI Board and MassTech Executive Committee.

Stakeholder Feedback on MBI Staff Recommendation Regarding Matrix and Comcast Grant Proposals for Montague and Hardwick

The state Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC) accepted comments on the Comcast-Matrix staff review from stakeholders through May 26, 2015.  MBI held a public meeting in western Massachusetts to provide municipal officials and residents of Hardwick and Montague with an opportunity to share perspectives directly with MBI and Commissioner of the Commonwealth’s Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC), Karen Charles Peterson. This meeting was held on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 from 6 - 8 pm at UMass Amherst.

MBI Staff Recommendation Regarding Matrix and Comcast Grant Proposals for Montague and Hardwick

The MBI conducted a thorough review of the proposals seeking state grant funding to expand broadband infrastructure to unserved residents in Montague and Hardwick. The MBI received two project proposals, from Matrix Design Group and Comcast, both seeking state grant funding to significantly increase residential coverage in these two towns. In addition to an internal staff analysis, the MBI commissioned independent external reviews from two technical experts, Tilson Technology Management and Wipro. The staff review and technical expert reviews are now available for download: