County officials issued a request for proposals in an effort to nab a provider interested in providing broadband service in several rural areas of the county.
The project includes some “results required” according to the proposal.
These include “Turnkey high-speed internet access to Garland VFD, Wrightsville VFD, Sugar Grove VFD, Spring Creek VFD and Spartansburg VFD.”
This connectivity then leads to the second level of results required – “Commercial and residential access to wireless and wired high-speed Internet services in the communities of Garland, Wrightsville, Sugar Grove, Spring Creek and Spartansburg.”
The county is now in possession of nearly $1 million in funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a 13-state economic development agency that incorporates the Appalachian region. The RFP aligns with the project described in this grant application.
The funding originally went to Youngsville Television Corp. for “to provide broadband services to unserved and underserved areas in the northwestern region of Pennsylvania”, depending on the grant award.
ARC has taken an optimistic view of what this project could mean for the future.
“Given the significant potential impact that broadband access can have on the economic development and revitalization of Northwestern Pennsylvania, the project will open doors to a variety of opportunities for regional economic diversification. , which has suffered from the decline of the coal industry.”
The tender is open to potential third-party vendors until the end of September, according to a public notice.
Commissioner Tricia Durbin, who led broadband efforts at the county level, said the request for proposals is for the use of those dollars but not limited to that funding stream.
County commissioners held most of their $7.6 million in US bailout dollars close to the vest as talks of possible broadband uses unfolded behind the scenes.
“The county has identified areas requiring high-speed services looking for an internet solution that will serve residents, businesses and governments throughout the county,” the RFP indicates.
“The County is seeking a company to design, engineer, acquire, install, operate, manage and maintain high-speed Internet to connect and serve underserved rural areas of the County…. The County is willing to provide access to its vertical assets such as the VFD mentioned above in all communities for the deployment of wireless services which will increase Internet deployments throughout the county.
The criteria concerning the construction to be managed are also specified in the document.
“It is a private/public company due to the funding source,” indicates the document. “The County will own the infrastructure for a period of three years. During this time, the provider will pay a right-of-use agreement fee for the network. Although owned by the government, the costs incurred to operate, manage and maintain the network will be the sole responsibility of the provider.
There is no third party vendor in mind at this stage and the RFP itself is a bit of a dart, complicated by the specific proposal on which ARC funding is based.
The objective behind the PD, Durbin stressed, is to “see if anyone is willing to partner with us.”