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Moline is restarting its search for a new high speed broadband provider – this time with help from consultants – in order to take a fresh look at the City’s needs and available services. City Council members have sought to ensure that all residents and businesses within the city have access to at least 1 gigabyte fiber service since at least 2019. However, failed negotiations with one company and proposals from other providers that didn’t meet the requirements the City laid out in the RFP it issued in December 2020 have forced staff to hit the reset button on the search.
Later this week, Moline City Administrator Bob Vitas and corporate counsel from the firm Ancel-Glink will meet with consulting firm CTC Technology & Energy to relaunch the fiber service provider search. The City Council recently approved spending $25,000 to hire a consultant that will:
Vitas said previous negotiations and RFPs failed primarily because none of the proposals fully met the requirements for coverage the City is seeking. Those stipulations are:
In February 2021, three firms responded to the RFP with a fourth firm responding in March.
None of the proposals met all of the City’s requirements, however, Vitas said. Most critically, each of the proposals showed significant gaps in providing service to the City’s low-and-moderate income areas.
After this week’s meeting with the consulting firm, Vitas said the goal is to complete a needs-assessment as quickly as possible and move forward with a second – more informed – Request for Proposals before the end of the first quarter of 2022, with a goal of selecting a provider that will launch the project toward the end of the second quarter.
This timeline will also allow the City to identify potential state and federal grants to help cover the cost of the new agreement.
“It is very important to get the implementation of a network right,” Vitas wrote in a memorandum to Council earlier this year. “Moving forward quickly with a service provider without understanding the marketplace, the needs of the community, technology changes and best practices could result in failure of this initiative. The primary goal is to provide the best-possible service to our city at the lowest-possible cost to taxpayers. Speed counts in broadband service; not in choosing the right service provider.”