Ferry County, located in the eastern region of Washington and along the northern border, recently released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a Broadband Consultant. Responses are due July 12th, 2019.
Trees Abound, Broadband Absent
Much of Ferry County is home to the Colville National Forest and timber has been one of the main sources of the local economy. Like other areas where forests cover great swaths of the countryside, broadband is either expensive or has never been deployed. There are about 7,600 people living on Ferry County's 2,257 square miles.
In addition to timber, other resource-based industries have traditionally offered jobs to locals, but as those resources have depleted, employment opportunities have decreased. Without reliable broadband, many local residents have struggled to make ends meet.
The Colville Indian Reservation is located within Ferry County and controlled by the Colville Confederated Tribes. Like much of the rest of the county, the reservation faces economic distress; residents have faced the prospect of moving in order to find work. Lacking the same access to broadband, the Tribes have joined forces with the county to form the Ferry County and Colville Confederated Tribes Broadband Action Team (BAT).
The BAT formed in April 2018 and began reaching out to stakeholders such as Washington State University - Ferry County (WSU), Microsoft, and the State of Washington. They aim to boost economic development, improve educational opportunities, enhance telemedicine, and expand other initiatives through broadband that will improve the quality of life in Ferry County.
Obtaining an Expert
Microsoft’s Airband Initiative and Declaration Network Group are already involved in the process and the consultant will work with them on data collection and analysis. The Airband Initiative uses TV white spaces to deliver connectivity. Learn more about the initiative from Christopher's conversation with Public Knowledge's Harold Feld, episode 262 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast.
Some of the services Ferry County seeks from a consultant include:
- Facilitate Joint Planning with the BAT Team and its Stakeholders
- Host at least four public meetings, two in North County and two on the Colville Reservation; specifically in the communities of Keller, Republic, Curlew, and Inchelium.
- Identify Industry Role Models and Best Practices
- Perform Local Market Analysis
- Inventory and Map Local Infrastructure and Demand (or Need)
The BAT asks that qualifications be sent to William Folks at : plan (at) co.ferry.wa.us.
The due date is July 12th, but if the BAT has not found a consultant that they feel meets their desired qualifications, they will keep the position open until filled.