In a state as large as Texas, it makes sense to divide the eastern half into defined regions. Likewise, when counties, towns, and other entities in one of those areas realize they need better connectivity, it makes sense to work together on a regional project. The Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) and Economic Development District recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Fiber Optic Broadband Market Analysis and Cost Study. Proposals are due September 25th, 2018.
Deep East Texas
The region is also known as the Texas Forest County, with four national forests, lakes, and primarily a rural landscape. Twelve counties constitute the Deep East region that borders Oklahoma on the north and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. About 385,000 people live in the region, which covers more than 10,380 square miles.
DETCOG is an organization that has been around since the mid-1960s and includes counties, cities, school districts, and other entities in the region interested in participating in local economic development efforts. According to the RFP, the DETCOG Board of Directors has decided to re-allocate some of the remaining relief funds from Hurricane Ike to boost the region’s options for high-quality Internet access. Estimated funds remain at around $513,000.
Within the region, 50 public school districts serve residents in 43 communities. There are two colleges, eleven hospitals, and more than 30 additional healthcare facilities. Ten cooperatives, including telephone, gas, and electric, operate in the region.
Much of the region obtains Internet access via DSL, with cable connections available in a few of the more densely populated areas, such as the county seats. There are also a few fixed wireless providers and at least one area where fiber is available on a limited basis. Some of the most rural areas depend on satellite. There’s very little consistency in the Deep East Texas Region and rates appear to run high for the level of service.
What They Want
To commence their journey toward better regional connectivity, the DETCOG seeks a consultant to study what is now available, what businesses and residents want and need, offer recommendations on what would work well for the region, and provide cost estimates. The DETCOG is looking for a solution for their entire 12-county region.
As part of their vision:
The DETCOG intends to empower its citizens and local businesses to be network economy producers, not just consumers of network information and data services. This requires access to gigabit-class broadband infrastructure to support these needed services and capabilities. DETCOG is looking for innovative solutions that will provide a cost-effective and rigorous path forward to present value to potential stakeholders, and to the region as a whole. Consideration that the region is rural and funding is limited is a priority to incorporate into development of the infrastructure.
Questions Deadline: Friday, September 14, 2018, 2:00 P.M. CST
Closing Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 4:00 P.M. CST