The City of Alexandria (VA) is on a mission to diversify broadband service providers, reported Alexandria Living. With only one citywide broadband provider, Comcast, city officials say residents can’t choose when it comes to broadband costs or reliability. In attempts to remedy the situation, they reissued an Invitation to Bid (ITB) on Monday to construct a Municipal Fiber Network, reported Living. The deadline for contractors to submit a bid is January 29, 2021.
According to Vanetta Pledger, chief information officer for the City of Alexandria, “Based on what has happened recently with COVID, we definitely are aware of how much broadband connects the community to services and things that they need. It’s really our desire to do as much as we can to promote competition in Alexandria and to ensure residents have options and sound solutions so they can conduct the business they need.”
In 2017, the city investigated construction of a municipal fiber network, and estimated costs came in at $8.4 million for Phase I only. The city initially issued the ITB in November 2019, but rescinded the request after bids exceeded the city’s budget. Pledger noted that the revised ITB extended the buildout timeline from two years to four years to help with costs.
The ITB is the first step of the Municipal Fiber Network, aiming to connect city offices via high-speed fiber. The project may also spur new partnerships with internet providers, piggybacking on the municipal network, and bringing competition into the market, according to city officials. Living reported that the city is not permitted to serve as a direct service provider to households under state law.
Regarding the potential new network, Pledger added, “We want to say ‘Hello, industry. Hello, world. How would you best leverage this asset to provide the community services?’”