In June, Boulder released a Request for Proposals (RFP) as it seeks a consultant to conduct a broadband feasibility study. A PDF of the RFP is available online.
The city currently has 179 miles of fiber in place serving 60 city facilities; there is an additional 36 miles of empty conduit. This network interfaces with the Boulder Valley School District's network within the city and in other areas of Boulder County. It also connects to Longmont's network and to a colocation facility in Denver.
The city is also home to BRAN - the Boulder Research and Administration Network. The city, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Department of Commerce Laboratories share ownership of the BRAN fiber network which interconnects their facilities.
Last fall, Boulder joined a number of other Colorado communities whose voters chose to reclaim local telecommunications authority, revoked in 2005 under Colorado State Bill 152.
The city established a Broadband Working Group earlier this year to investigate ways to bring better connectivity to Boulder. They created a draft vision, included in the RFP:
Draft Vision: Gigabit Broadband to Boulder Homes and Businesses
(May 21, 2015)
Our vision is to provide a world-class community telecommunications infrastructure to Boulder for the 21st century and beyond, facilitated by new access to the public’s local telecommunications assets. We acknowledge that broadband is a critical service for quality of life, as is the case with roads, water, sewer, and electricity. Every home, business, non-profit organization, government entity, and place of education should have the opportunity to connect affordably, easily, and securely. Boulder’s broadband services will be shaped by the values of the community.
We intend to empower our citizens and local businesses to be network economy producers, not just consumers of network information and data services. We realize that doing so requires access to gigabit-class broadband infrastructure to support these needed services and capabilities:
1. Broadband Infrastructure: Provide the infrastructure to enable every Boulder home, business, visitor, and public or private institution the opportunity to access affordable high speed broadband connections to the Internet, and other networks.
2. Open Access: Demonstrate, support, and build a non-discriminatory, open-access infrastructure that should, to the maximum extent possible, be open to all users, service providers, content providers, and application providers and be usable via all standard commercial devices.
3. Competitive Marketplace: Facilitate a local broadband marketplace that is as competitive as reasonably possible.
4. Compete Globally: Provide stakeholders with the broadband capacity, affordability and local, regional and national connectivity they need to compete successfully in the global marketplace.
We envision significant progress toward an operational network in 1-2 years with commitments from providers, community stakeholders, regional partners, and a common, shared vision to make gigabit-class bandwidth available to all residents, businesses and workers in Boulder.
As mentioned in the RFP, Boulder is currently in the process of municipalizing its electric utility services. The city mentions that the firm selected for the electric utility project is available to provide information about infrastructure or related issues for a more accurate study.
Last summer, Chris spoke with Don Ingle, Director of Information Technology from Boulder, for episode #108 of the Commnity Broadband Bits podcast. Don shared information about the city's policies that helped develop their existing fiber and conduit assets. Chris and Don also discussed ways Boulder has benefitted from its existing network.
The city is already offering free Wi-Fi in the downtown Civic Area. They have produced a video on the service: