San Francisco launches RFQ for US$1.9 billion broadband PPP

San Francisco launches RFQ for US$1.9 billion broadband PPP

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The Department of Technology of the City and County of San Francisco​ has issued a Request for Qualifications for the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of a citywide high-speed internet network. The city is located in northern California, on the east coast of the USA. The total investment for the project is estimated to be US$1.9 billion.

The successful bidder will develop a ubiquitous open-access broadband Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network that permits retail service providers (RSPs) to lease capacity on the network and provide Wi-Fi service to key areas of the city. The network will serve as a platform for multiple RSPs to reach subscribers over a shared infrastructure. RSPs will be able to connect to the network and deliver services to their subscribers

The project is intended to expand the City’s existing fiber optic network and lease its use to internet service providers. The internet service would include affordable subsidized rates for low-income residents, reduce the cost for new service providers to enter the market, and give subscribers more choices for service providers to meet their connectivity needs.

On April 30, 2018, five proposals will be selected; from which three would be allowed to bid on a request for proposals to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the network. The RFP, which is expected to be issued by the end of this year, will stipulate that those who manage the network and provide services must adhere to core principles like privacy, affordability and net neutrality.

The successful bidder will sign a 15-year contract. Construction of the network is expected to take between three to five years. The City will retain ownership of the fiber network and will provide a significant amount of the funding for its development.

The Interim Mayor, Mark Farrell, stated that the project is an concerted effort to protect the privacy of San Francisco residents from mega-telecom companies and the policies of the federal government. 

In December 2017, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle net neutrality regulations, through removing prohibitions established by the previous administration on blocking web traffic, slowing it or demanding payment for faster passage via their networks. This will allow broadband providers to favour the internet traffic of websites willing to pay for speedier service. This was a highly controversial and contested move.

For more information on the RFQ, see the Business Opportunity.

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