Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is an ultra-high speed network?
A: An Internet service offering speeds up to 100 times faster than typically available. 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: Will this new service replace my current cable and phone service? When will this new network be available? How much will it cost? Who is going to have access to this ultra high speed network?
A: NCNGN welcomes proposals from existing service providers or from companies not currently operating in our area. Residents will have the choice to stay with their current carrier or move their account to the new service. The 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 2013.
Q: Will this reach all homes in the six municipalities? Who will decide what
neighborhoods are included?
A: This will be a negotiation point between local governments, the NCNGN team, and the selected vendor(s). We will be seeking your input on this in the near future. In communities like Kansas City and Seattle, the neighborhoods that express the greatest interest are often the first served. Here’s how Kansas City made their decisions: (link)
Q: How will this new service benefit town residents?
A: Residents and businesses will have access to faster connections at lower costs. The request
for proposal (RFP) for the project also asks that the vendor provide free mobile wireless (Wi-Fi) in public parks and public spaces adjacent to wired areas.
This new service will enhance the competitive environment for attracting new technology-based businesses to our region. Technology-based businesses typically pay higher wages that many other industries.
Q: How will this new service benefit the business community?
A: For current businesses, this new service will enhance the efficiency of all businesses, including home businesses, those that support telework, and entrepreneurs, by improving speeds/capacity while reducing telecommunications costs.
Q: How will this new service benefit the schools?
A: Many of the schools in our region currently purchase service from commercial carriers. If successful, NCNGN will improve the network speeds available to schools in our region.
Q: How will this new service help resolve the digital divide?
A: The RFP seeks free or heavily discounted services for low-income residents and also creates a working relationship between vendors, municipalities and local non-profits to fund hardware and training for underserved populations.
Q: Will this new service work with my cell phone?
A: This service will not offer cellular wireless, however, we anticipate that it will expand the range of Wi-Fi to help reduce data costs.
Q: What is the timetable for making it available?
A: We anticipate availability to begin in mid to late 2014.
Q: Are other communities trying to implement ultra-high speed networks?
A: Many US communities are working on similar projects. In fall 2012, both Chicago and Seattle announced public-private-university broadband/fiber-optic partnerships similar to that proposed by our communities. In North Carolina, Person County has a similar RFP for underserved areas. Today these partnerships offer a much-desired upgrade to their communities’ broadband service. (See the post for more)
Q: How much will this cost my municipality?
A: The municipalities’ and university partners’ only costs are for existing staff time to oversee the project as it is built. The selected vendor(s) will be expected to pay all other costs, including paying for rent on existing, unused fiber. So the cities may be generating some revenue from this project. There is no additional municipality money going into this project, and we have not been able to identify any risk to taxpayer.
Q: What if my municipality is not in that list?
A: We anticipate working with other communities in future phases.
Q: Will only one company be selected?
A: We won’t know the answer to this until we have seen proposals from interested vendors. Each community will work with the NCNGN group to select the vendor or vendors providing the best offering for their local needs.
Q: How does this affect other Internet service providers?
A: NCNGN is being designed to encourage innovation and competition. Our plan encourages the creation of an open access network; this means a network that provides choice of several service providers all competing to provide Internet and related services over the same fiber coming into your office or home.
Q: When are responses to the RFP due?
A: April 1, 2013
Q: What is a RFP (request for proposals)?
A: A document that describes a project’s needs/wants and asks for proposed solutions from qualified vendors. The RFP typically specifies a format for responses to follow and a time schedule. Once all proposals are received, technical experts review the proposed solutions to determine which ones follow the prescribed format and which vendors have the required expertise, funding, and staffing to carry through on their solution. In the case of the NCNGN RFP, reviewers will also be rating responses on how well the proposed solutions fit the list of community needs/wants (open access, reduced costs for low income residents and anchor institutions, free Wi-Fi in parks, etc.). Participation in the RFP process does not obligate or bind the municipality to accept any vendor offer or to proceed further with the project.
With a list of qualified vendors in hand, the project/municipal staff will begin negotiating a contract with one or more of the vendors. The contract negotiations will be carried out by a team of negotiators who are well-versed in local policy, state and federal law, and the project goals. Lawyers and purchasing professionals will review the negotiations along the way to ensure that all elements of the emerging contract are legally allowable and without any hidden costs.
While municipalities are not allowed under North Carolina law generally to regulate communications providers, municipalities are authorized to negotiate terms and conditions reasonably related to the lease of their facilities. Such terms could include the speed of the services to be provided as well as pricing of those services. North Carolina municipalities are entitled to enforce lease contracts in the same manner as other parties are.
Q: Who will be 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 will appoint a technical advisory committee which will, along with each cities technical staff, review the vendor responses and make recommendations about which ones to negotiate a contract with. Typically selections will be made based on the completeness of the application and the experience, credit worthiness, and references of the vendor. In this case, the innovativeness of the proposed solution will also be considered.
Q: Who will be allowed to respond to the RFP?
A: Any business with the experience and funding available is encouraged to respond.