In a meeting on Thursday with the Northampton High-speed Community Network Coalition, the City was gracious enough to allow our coalition to comment on its upcoming Request For Proposal (RFP) to study the viability of a municipal network for the city. The RFP will be a vehicle by which vendors would bid to perform the work.
The City’s RFP was very comprehensive and well prepared. It was obvious to us that the city is going into this process very carefully, and working hard to make sure they are considering all options and ideas, particularly from our coalition. Al Willams from Northampton Open Media (formerly NCTV) also attended and provided comments.
We discussed the RFP point by point. We are confident that the city wants to make sure that in the lead up to a decision of whether to build a municipal network, they leave no stone unturned.
The RFP is looking for one vendor to do two separate studies.
The first is a market analysis to determine if the conditions exist for a municipal network to be viable. This is very important since the city needs to be certain that if it embarks on this project, that the chances for success are as close to assured as possible. The city and our goal envisions the network as being self sustaining.
The second study is a feasibility study to determine the pros and cons of different methodologies for building the network, and what the costs will be. It also focuses on potential pitfalls or problems so that there are no surprises down the road.
Some of the issues we advocated for in the meeting were: privacy, net-neutrality, affordability (particularly for lower income households), accessibility across all of Northampton, public safety, conflict of interest protections, continued community media funding, and a fast timeline for the process. The city was very receptive to all of our ideas.
We’re very encouraged by the progress the city has made on this effort. We applaud the mayor and city staff on their creation and support for such a thorough RFP. We look forward to continuing to work with the city as this process moves forward.
We’ll post again, with a link, as soon as the city releases the RFP, which we anticipate shortly.