When the announcement came out in 2015 that Sanford, Maine, would invest in the state’s largest municipal fiber optic network, media outlets were abuzz with the news. The situation has quieted down as the community has been working to plan for the project. Earlier this month, Sanford released its second Request for Proposals (RFP) for Fiber Optic Construction for the network; responses are due May 2nd.
Back when the city began the process of investing in publicly owned Internet infrastructure, they conducted an original RFP process and selected a construction firm. Before the project began, however, Sanford won a significant award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and, according to the EDA, the city’s RFP process did not conform to EDA bid process requirements. In order to accept the award, the city needs to re-run to RFP process.
The project will cost approximately $1.5 million and, with the federal grant slated to pay for around half at $769,000, Sanford officials see the benefit of taking the time to release a second RFP. The city will use proceeds from the sale of a former school property to fund the remaining. They anticipate construction to begin in July and estimate the project will be completed and the network will be ready to operate by November.
As the RFP states, the project will connect approximately 85 community anchor institutions (CAIs) to a network of about 40 miles of fiber and to the state’s middle mile Three Ring Binder. In addition to City Hall, they intend to connect schools, healthcare facilities, libraries, and public works buildings. There are also a significant number of business locations on the list of addresses that Sanford officials want connected to the network. The community has already chosen Maine’s GWI to operate the open access network.
You can listen to our conversation with CEO Fletcher Kittredge in episode 176 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. He and Christopher discuss Sanford and other projects in Maine.
Sanford And The Region
Until the 1950s, the community’s modern economy centered on textile manufacturing. The population has held stubbornly at around 21,000 for the past 20 years and community leaders want economic development. Like many other communities with manufacturing histories, they see the need for high-quality connectivity to retain existing manufacturing in the community while also hoping to attract diverse high-tech employers that require fast, affordable, reliable connectivity.
The city is located in York County, near the southern most tip of the state and the region has been growing. The area attracts people who want to take advantage of hiking trials, mountain biking trails, and downhill skiing, and there are several golf courses that bring in golfers from other areas of the state. With about a dozen lakes for recreation and the ocean within a 30 minute drive, the population in the region swells in the summer to around 60,000.
Due date for response to the RFP is May 2nd.
Questions and comments should be directed via email to:
Mark Buxton or David Radin Tilson
16 Middle Street, 4th Floor
Portland, ME 04101