Shelby, a community of about 9,300 people located in north central Ohio, has recently released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Broadband Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study. The municipality is exploring new ways to improve local connectivity. Proposals are due December 20th.
Incumbents Spectrum Cable and CenturyLink offer services in the community, but as we've seen in other places, lack of affordability, slow speeds, and poor customer service encourage interest in publicly owned options. According to the RFP, Internet service provider Everstream owns fiber optic assets in Shelby and operates a fiber hub within a facility owned by the city. Everstream provides Internet access to the city and community leaders have approached Everstream about expanding the network to businesses and residents. Shelby wants to explore all possibilities, however, so decided to commission a feasibility study. From the RFP:
The City considers a modern digital infrastructure to be a critical component of a competitive city of the future and wishes to ensure that it is well positioned to meet the current and future needs of its residents, businesses and anchor institutions.
This project will result in the production of a Feasibility Study containing a residential needs assessment, business needs assessment, and deployment cost estimates. The desired outcome of this planning effort is to provide a tool for the City to establish if Shelby residents and businesses want this service, determine a successful deployment strategy and the associated cost to implement fiber to the premises (“FTTP”) within the City, and assess whether such project will be sufficiently supported by customer rates to justify the investment in this infrastructure.
Shelby is looking for a firm that will provide a feasibility study that includes:
Needs assessment: In addition to examining the current needs for residents and businesses, the consultants will develop projections of potential broadband services with Everstream or other service providers. The firm selected should examine regional efforts in addition to local options.
Infrastructure and deployment recommendations: In addition to examining pros and cons of municipal deployment, the consultants should be, once again, considering how Everstream and other ISPs may fit into Shelby's possible plans for better connectivity.
Financial expectations: In addition to estimates for residential and business service citywide networks, Shelby would like to know what sort of financial implications could arise if the city and a private sector partner choose not to offer video or voice. Other information they seek includes:
- Operating income and cash flow
- Projected revenues and benefit
- Expected and minimum take rate
- Operational expenses
- Depreciation schedule
- Construction build-out cost estimates
- Product offerings and pricing
- Staffing levels needed
According to the RFP, prospective respondents can send written questions by Dec. 13th via e-mail to the Director of Utilities at: johnensman(at)shelbycity.oh.gov. They plan to reply to questions via blind copy to all responding vendors.
The community is located about midway between Columbus and Cleveland in Richland County and the city is about 6.5 square miles. Shelby owns and operates its own electric utility, which will offer an advantage if they decide to move forward and develop a municipal fiber optic broadband network. The town is located about 12 miles northeast of the county seat of Mansfield, which has a much larger population of about 46,000 people.