Q: What is an ultra-high speed network?
A: In technical terms, the NCNGN effort seeks plans for 100 mbps wireless up to 1 gigabit or higher wired, symmetric service. Symmetric means same speed for upload and download.
Q: How fast is a gigabit?
A: Gigabit speed networks give faster access to today’s services, and could make other activities like telecommuting, HD-quality videoconferencing, remote health services and the like, more easily achievable. By way of example, if you currently have 10MB service, it takes over an hour to download a full movie. With a gigabit connection, it will take less than a minute. (See YouTube Video)
Q: Will the municipalities be providing services?
A: No. State law prevents municipalities from competing with commercial providers. NCNGN seeks one or more private-sector providers to design, build, operate, and own the network.
Q: Who will pay for the proposed gigabit network? How much will this cost my municipality?
A: The selected vendor(s) will be expected to pay all costs associated with building, maintaining, and operating the network, including paying for rent on existing, unused fiber. The municipalities’ and university partners’ only anticipated costs are for existing staff time to oversee the project as it is built.
Q: When were responses to the RFP due?
A: April 1, 2013
Q: Who responded to the RFP?
A: Eight proposals were submitted in response to the RFP. Some of the submissions came from individual entities and others came from partnerships. Time Warner Cable is the only company that has made its participation in the process public. The identities of the other respondents are confidential at this time.
Q: Who is reviewing the responses and how will they select someone to do business with?
A: NCNGN has a steering committee composed of ranking city staff and the CIOs from each of the participating universities. This committee appointed a technical advisory committee which, along with each city’s technical staff, reviewed the vendor responses and made recommendations about which submissions had the potential to help the communities achieve the goals outlined in the RFP.
Q: When will a vendor or vendors be selected?
A: The NCNGN steering committee had hoped to finalize negotiations with vendors by early fall 2013. However, as with any negotiation process, the timeline is a bit fluid. We want to allow ourselves time to reach the best result for the communities involved even if doing so means the process may stretch on longer than originally anticipated.
Q: Will only one company be selected?
A: Each community involved in the NCNGN process will decide which vendor or vendors, if any, will provide the best offering for their local needs. It is possible that all communities will select the same vendor, but that is not necessarily the case.
Q: Will this new service replace my current Internet, cable and phone service? How much will the new services cost?
A: NCNGN welcomed proposals from existing service providers and from companies not currently operating in our area. The precise details of what services (Internet, phone, television) will be available, how much they will cost, and when and where they will be available won’t be known until later in our process. If the vendor(s) selected do not currently offer services in your area, you will have the choice of switching to the new service provider(s) or sticking with your existing Internet, cable, and phone providers.
Q: What is the timetable for making services available?
A: Once we conclude our process, the successful vendor(s) will begin a complex process of assessing demand across our communities, analyzing and engineering their network deployment plans, securing the necessary permits and approvals, and actually building out the network itself. If all goes well, we hope that service will begin by the fourth quarter 2014.
Q: What if my municipality is not part of NCNGN? Will this project do anything for me?
A: When not limited by regulatory restrictions, service providers who currently offer gigabit connections have expanded, or announced plans to expand, to neighboring communities in response to demand for their services. We would expect the same to occur here, so even if your community is not part of the effort today, gigabit services may still be made available to you in the future.
There may also be indirect benefits. Experience in other communities also suggests that when one provider begins offering significantly higher speed services at attractive prices, other providers increase the speeds and/or lower the prices of their offerings in the same community and in nearby communities to compete.