Boston is preparing an extensive broadband expansion project that will bring added connectivity capacity to 73 public schools.
The $10 million project is tied to the city’s long-term infrastructure plans for the Boston Fiber Network (BoNet) and its Imagine Boston 2030 citywide planning initiative for growth. The new fiber will also be used to aid public safety communications for first responders.
Details of the plan were released by the Department of Information and Innovation in an April 3 RFP, which is bids on a 20-year contract for a broadband provider to connect 100 city buildings, 73 public schools and 24 family housing developments, according to a report in EdScoop’s affiliate news site, StateScoop.
Boston Chief Information Officer Jascha Franklin-Hodge said the proposal request, that is due on June 6, is the result of years of planning and is envisioned to answer diverse city needs. These include efforts to bridge the digital divide for low-income residents, promote equitable economic growth with greater internet accessibility and to ready Boston for the next generation of smart city services.
The city is taking a unique approach to the expansion by issuing awards to the network in chunks through something called an indefeasible right of use (IRU). The city used a similar procurement model to remain flexible on which vendors it used for an internal energy monitoring project. This model, Franklin-Hodge explained, is to keep costs down while also promoting competition.
“What we’ve done is put out an RFP to construct the rest of this network and so we expect, and in fact we hope, that we’ll have multiple bidders who bid on it. We may even have multiple companies that end up getting the contract,” Franklin-Hodge said. “We structured it so that different zones of the city could actually be built by different companies. … Definitely increasing competition is one of the sub-goals we have for this.”