The Request for Proposal published Friday by the group seeking to bring a Google Fiber-like network to the Triangle and parts of the Triad lays out an impressive plan.

Wow is one way to describe it.

Put this plan in place over the next few years and the Triangle and Triad will be humming even more so than it is now when it comes to technology.

Will the private sector play?

There are plenty of carrots, although tax dollars aren’t among them.

The city governments and the universities are offering plenty of cost-cutting benefits, however, ranging from zoning and engineering support, fast permitting, rights-of-way access, and fiber-optics that have yet to be “lit up.”

They also say the contract winners might win contracts for providing services.

Four major, bandwidth-hungry universities could spend lots of money on such a network. 

Cities could as well.

The Big Bait

BUT – the big lure has to be: How many private businesses will sign on for faster backbone speed to the Internet and faster connectivity from their enterprise networks to employees who work remotely – or want to but can’t get sufficient bandwidth?

How many private citizens would pay for faster access? (Google Fiber speeds in Kansas City, its original launch point, are very reasonable when compared to existing prices from other providers – at slower speeds.)

The North Carolina Next Generation Network consortium (UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest), six cities (Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Carborro, Cary) and the Triangle J Council of Governments spell out five goals a new network would need to reach

But the plan wants more than infrastructure and services as the five major goals spell out.

They want a network that bridges the digital divide with free or deeply discounted services for underserved and low-income neighborhoods.

They want some free wireless access areas.

They want soup to nuts connectivity, all at ultra-fast broadband speeds.

The big question: Will players in the private sector play?

The Goals

The goals as cited in the RFP:

1. Create a gigabit, fiber network to foster innovation, drive job creation, stimulate economic growth, and serve new areas of development in the community;

a. covers those areas prioritized in each comm unity’s Schedule with a negotiated plan for building out the remainder of each community;
b. provides a comprehensive broadband infrastructure that can be expanded upon to serve other areas of the region; and
c. provides service for a minimum of five (5) years from the date of first operation.

2. Provide an open access architectural framework that maximizes wholesale and retail service delivery and competition;

a. provides non-discriminatory interconnects.

3. Provide a flexible menu of optional retail services

a. offers supported retail broadband services with a guaranteed sustained minimum schedule of service ranging from a preferred 1 gbps with other options such as high speed wireless for certain market areas as well as temporary solutions with a timeline for permanent installation of the preferred solution; supports high quality voice, data, and video services, and telehealth solutions.

4. Use public-private assets to reduce the digital divide, enhance workforce knowledge and skills, promote economic development, enhance access for anchor institutions, and serve other targeted social purposes identified by the participating municipalities;

a. provides free or heavily discounted services to specified low-income neighborhoods (see each community’s Schedule for a list of neighborhoods within each RE jurisdiction) and anchor institutions;

b. creates a working relationship between local governmental units, vendors, and non-profit organizations to fund ha rdware and educational services for low-income residents, the elderly, and other underserved populations; and

c. establishes free wireless networks in parks and public spaces in areas adjacent to the wired network.

5. Provide high speed internet service over a wired or wireless network at a substantial discount from current market prices.

a. enables low wholesale access prices that reflect underlying costs while allowing Vendor(s) to earn a return on investment commensurate with the risks involved.

 This is quite a proposal.

Let’s hope private sector players sign on.