WILMINGTON — The Clinton County commissioners soon will ask broadband providers to suggest build-out projects to expand broadband service in the county.
Commissioners met by phone Wednesday with Christopher L. Miller, an Ice Miller Whiteboard partner in Columbus, to review the draft of the upcoming RFP (Request for Proposals) to be issued with the goal of adding new broadband infrastructure here.
Commissioners have previously indicated they want some of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act allotted dollars to go for broadband expansion.
The RFP document does not guarantee funding support from the county, but does say interested respondents should detail the support that would be required from the county for the proposed project.
The RFP states if the respondent is seeking county funds, it must detail what percentage they would constitute of the overall project cost.
Further, respondents should provide their proposed rate structure for end-users of the proposed broadband build-out, according to the RFP.
If a provider’s suggested project is chosen after RFP responses are vetted, the provider then is to deliver a suggested contract for negotiations with the county.
The RFP states that a county-signed contract, if awarded, will go to the respondent “that best demonstrates its ability to deploy robust broadband connectivity the most cost-effectively, to the most locations, and at the most affordable rates.”
Other than the general parameters contained in the RFP document, the county is open to suggestions from providers on how they would propose to solve the county’s problem of unserved and under-served areas in the county, Miller said.
During Wednesday’s discussion, Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said when it comes to home businesses and working from home, “upload speeds are very important to get documents back out the door and where they need to go.” The wording in the draft RFP will be revised and strengthened in an effort to reflect that.
A committee of six to 10 people will review the proposed projects. Ice Miller Whiteboard staff will serve as a coach for the vetting, but will not vote in the decision which is to be made by locals.
The “Project Overview” section of the RFP states, “Given the topography, demographics, population density, and existing infrastructure within the county, we anticipate that a hybrid fiber/wireless deployment may be the most cost- and time-effective solution to meeting local connectivity needs in the short- and long-term.”
Clinton County commissioners in October 2021 selected the firm Ice Miller Whiteboard to come up with short- and long-term strategies for broadband expansion.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.