“The Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana” could soon be the gateway to high-speed Internet access in Indiana. The city of Bloomington, Indiana, has undertaken several projects and events in order to empower the community to find solutions to its connectivity problems.
The city of Bloomington issued a Request For Information (RFI) for a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network on March 31, 2016. City leaders have taken this next step in order to make high-speed Internet access affordable and available to all of the city’s 80,000 people.
A Bull’s Eye: The RFI
Unlike the often-mentioned Request For Proposal (RFP), an RFI does not establish a plan of action. Instead, the RFI creates a procedure for Internet service providers (ISPs), contractors, and other companies to provide information on how they would create a network to best meet the needs of the city. The city's deadline to answer any questions from interested firms is April 28th and RFI responses are due on May 12th.
Rick Dietz spoke with us the day after the city released the RFI. Dietz is the Director of ITS for the city of Bloomington. He described how the city had come to its decision to pursue a community network. The mayor and city council hired a consultant and held a symposium on high-speed networks, before releasing the RFI.
Dietz repeated the three key components that are integral to the RFI:
- Community-wide connectivity, to enable everyone to use the network.
- Community-control, to ensure the network meets the community’s needs.
- Financial sustainability to the community in the future.
Without these principles, a new network will likely not be right for Bloomington. The RFI calls for any incumbent providers, local providers, or others to describe their ideas to achieve these goals, whether through a private public partnership or not. The City has taken a number of steps to enable this process to go smoothly.
The February Symposium
In February, the city held a symposium on next-generation networks. It brought together local and national experts in fiber networks. A... Read more