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Broadband's Impact

Riverside County Introduces Broadband Initiative for Area the Size of New Jersey

Drew Clark



RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA, April 19, 2017 - At 7,200 square miles, this Southern California county is nearly the size of New Jersey. On April 3, the county put out a "Request for Participants" in an effort to jump-start a $2 billion to $4 billion initiative building a gigabit fiber network.

The project is dubbed RIVCOConnect, and represents one of the most ambitious county-led efforts to entice the private sector to do what it hasn't yet done: Upgrade speeds and connectivity throughout less-populated regions of this sprawling county.

In addition to a supportive county government, the 28 cities within the county have "signed resolutions saying, 'yes, we are with you,' and we are asking for partners to come in" and put forward their best ideas, said David Littell, RIVCOconnect director. He was speaking at a Tuesday event in Mesa, Arizona, sponsored by Next Century Cities.

Riverside County Launches Request for Participants to Build Countywide Fiber-Optic Network

"We have no funds for the network, but we are removing roadblocks" in a way that could lower costs to build by as much as 30 percent, said Littell.

The 46-page RFP itemizes what the county wants to do, and what it will make available for the successful bidder or bidders.

The RFP is built upon a 24-page Broadband Master Plan outlining five strategies: reducing capital and operating costs, reducing risk, creating opportunity for selected providers, and encouraging demanding-increasing innovations.

Preceding both is an 8-page County Broadband Policy declaring the importance of broadband, and the county's role as policy leader, planner, regulator, consumer, service provider and property owner.

The county has also released maps of potential fiber hut locations and county building locations, which will be important for potential bidders.

A non-mandatory Proposers’ Conference will be held on Thursday, April 20, 2017, 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Riverside Room at RCIT, 3450 14th Street, Riverside, CA 92501, or by telephone at 888-390-8951, passcode 9395599#.

"Broadband grows more important daily because vast amounts of data must be transmitted quickly and efficiently to support hospitals and medical offices, school systems, businesses and other needs," according to the county's press release.

"Businesses and service providers commonly locate their operations in areas where high speed broadband is readily available, unlike in the Riverside County region. If the initiative can deploy gigabit service, the county and its partners could offer businesses worldwide affordable high-speed internet access, a lower cost-of-living than much of urbanized California, and access to a large local labor pool," the release continued.

The project is not designed to finance broadband deployment on its own. Instead, the project aims to entice the private sector to act by offering the carrot of streamlining and expediting "often cumbersome permitting" through implementing "dig-once" policies and intra-county coordination designed to significantly reduce construction costs for the network.

See also: RivCo Connect | Broadband News


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