Monday, November 21, 2016

MBI Launches RFP to Identify Private Sector Options to Close ‘Last Mile’ Broadband Gaps

The Competitive Process Will Provide Unserved Towns with Proposals from Firms Willing to Construct and Operate Residential Broadband Networks

WESTBOROUGH – Today the Baker-Polito Administration announced the launch of a competitive solicitation for private sector proposals to close Last Mile broadband gaps in western and central Massachusetts towns. The request for proposals, issued by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI), will identify qualified private firms willing to design, build, own, operate, manage, and maintain high-speed broadband internet networks in the 40 Massachusetts towns currently unserved by broadband.

“Since May, we’ve stressed flexibility, local control, and a focus on results, in the Last Mile project,” said Peter Larkin, Board Chair of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and Special Advisor to the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Last Mile project. “This request for proposals advances those priorities, by providing unserved towns with the opportunity to partner with qualified private sector broadband firms. Communities are under no obligation to engage with private partners, but it is important to us to give unserved towns the option of reviewing competitive proposals from seasoned providers, as these providers have the potential to close local broadband gaps quickly and affordably.”

The RFP seeking interest from qualified private-sector broadband providers is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to work collaboratively with towns to address Last Mile broadband gaps.

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute has empowered towns to seek a variety of solutions to Last Mile challenges, including municipally-owned fiber-to-the-home networks, public-private partnerships, and alternative technologies. In August 2016, the MBI provided a $1.6 million Last Mile grant to Charter Communications to build out broadband in the unserved towns of Hinsdale, Lanesborough, and West Stockbridge; the project will connect approximately 3,400 residential and commercial premises to broadband service, at no cost to the municipalities. Previously, the MBI provided Last Mile support for the Town of Leverett, which launched a municipal broadband network in late 2015, and a grant to the Town of Mount Washington for a fiber-to-the-home network in June 2016.

The MBI’s request for proposals advances this work, by creating a single front door for qualified private sector firms interested in partnering with any of the 40 remaining unserved Last Mile towns. The competitive solicitation will give communities additional options, as they consider solutions to broadband connectivity gaps.

The RFP seeks proposals for broadband networks from firms that have an established track record of financial and technical expertise in the management and operation of residential broadband networks in the U.S. These proposals could offer broadband networks for one, many, or all of the 40 unserved towns. Vendors must show the ability to deliver sustainable financial and technical operation of a broadband network, must commit to provide broadband service for a minimum of 15 years, and must meet minimum coverage and network performance benchmarks established by the MBI.

Individual towns retain ultimate control and final approval over whether to pursue a proposed solution with a private provider.

Responses to the RFP are due to the MBI by January 16, 2017.  A copy of the procurement, which includes eligibility criteria and a list of the communities involved, is available on the MBI’s website at:

http://www.masstech.org/rfp-last-mile-grants-provide-broadband-service-unserved-towns-western-massachusetts

MEDIA CONTACT:

Brian Noyes, MassTech/MBI
(508) 870-0312 X: 293, noyes@masstech.org