In late August, Warren County Commissioners in northwest Pennsylvania issued a RFP that sought to establish a public-private partnership to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to rural parts of the county near the Allegheny National Forest and River.
County officials are now reviewing proposals for a plan to “design, engineer, procure, install, operate, manage, and maintain high speed Internet to connect and serve the underserved rural areas of the county.” The initiative is part of the county Broadband Task Force’s effort to close the digital divide in a region that is nearly 900 square miles and home to 40,000 residents.
The RFP calls for three required outcomes:
- High-speed Internet access for the fire departments in Garland, Wrightsville, Sugar Grove, Spring Creek, and Spartansburg.
- Wireless or wireline connectivity to businesses and residential households in Garland, Wrightsville, Sugar Grove, Spring Creek, and Spartansburg communities.
- Offer “no cost service” to municipal entities in the county.
And while the RFP does not specifically require wireless network proposals, the RFP puts its thumb on the scale in favor of proposals that detail a “Primary Wireless Solution.”
The county would own the infrastructure for three years and, during that time, the Internet service provider who wins the bid will pay a rights-of-way agreement for the network, and will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the network. The county is also willing to provide access to its vertical assets to enable the deployment of wireless technology.
The RFP does not specify required subscription costs or low cost options for subscribers but does ask applicants to provide a five-year customer rate table and specifies that they are looking for a project that is beneficial to all parties, including the residents.
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