Alexander County, North Carolina, recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find a firm to conduct a broadband assessment and feasibility study. Applications are due July 24th.
In addition to examining what type of service and where service is currently available, the county wants a firm that will help create a strategy to improve what they already know is poor connectivity throughout the county. Funding sources should be identified along with helpful public policy suggestions.
According to the RFP, approximately 50 percent of 1,954 respondents in a recent indicated that their Internet service did not have sufficient speed. Sixty-five percent don’t have access to broadband as defined by the FCC (25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload), and about 12 percent use their mobile devices to access the Internet. Sixteen percent noted that affordability is a problem. Approximately 84 percent of respondents indicated that they’d like to have more options for Internet access.
Alexander County is mostly rural and home to about 38,000 people. Manufacturing is an important part of the economy but farmland makes up much of its 264 square miles. Taylorsville is the county seat and the only town, with a few other unincorporated communities in the county. Bethlehem, a census designated place is located in the southwest corner of the county and is also somewhat densely populated, relative to the rest of the county.
The community is on the west side of the state, about an hour north of Charlotte. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) classifies the community's economic status as "transitional" and the North Carolina Department of Commerce considers it an average economically distressed county. A little more than half of school kids qualify for free and reduced lunches. Unemployment is at 3.2 percent as of April 2017. County leaders hope that improving connectivity within the region will also help diversify the economy and improve the employment situation for residents.
The county’s Information Technology Department maintains a fiber optic network that connects ten public facilities, including the library, courthouse, and law enforcement center. The Wide Area Network (WAN) provides Internet access for the connected facilities and connects to state and federal government buildings. As part of the assessment, county officials want firms responding to the RFP to address how they would incorporate publicly owned assets into any future solutions.
July 10, 2017: Questions from prospective applicants are due by 4:00 p.m.
July 14, 2017: Written response to each question will be submitted to all known prospective applicants. If you are interested in receiving the responses to the submitted questions, please email Greg Cronk to indicate your request.
July 24, 2017: Application submission deadline, applications are due to Alexander County no later than 5:00 PM.
Questions regarding RFP content must be submitted in writing to:
Alexander County Information Technology Director
621 Liledoun Road
Taylorsville, NC 28681
Email: gcronk (at) alexandercountync.gov