The review of responses has just begun, but the backers seeking to create a Google Fiber-like high-speed network across the Triangle and parts of the Triad are certainly pleased with what they have seen so far.

North Carolina’s Next Generation Network request for proposals drew responses from eight different entities, including Time Warner Cable. That’s more than the NC NGN planning group expected.

Only TW Cable chose to publicized the fact that it had responded to the RFP, so information about who the others are and what they have proposed is only sketchy at best.

However, John Hodges-Copple, director of regional planning for the Triangle J Council of Governments which is helping coordinate the process, did offer some insight.

“We received eight submissions,” Hodges-Copple told The Skinny.

However, he said RFP information is being treated as confidential.

“As you note in the case of TimeWarner Cable, submitters are free to disclose if they have submitted,” he explained.

The number came as a pleasant surprise.

“It exceeded our expectations,” Hodges-Copple said of the response. “I believe most of the participants were thinking there might be three to five submittals.”

The deadline for the RFP response was Tuesday, so the NGN team is just now diving into the data that at least looks promising – so far.

“Although the review is just beginning, I think it is fair to say that the participants are pleased with the submittals,” Hodhes-Copple pointed out.

Next steps include reviews of the RFPs by a steering committee of the universities and local governments involved. A technical committee also is providing analysis. 

As for specifics about ideas, Hodges-Copple said very little additional information is likely to be disclosed as required by state law.

“As permitted under NCGS 147-33.81(2) for information technology services, the identities and submissions of these responses will remain confidential until the process is complete and one or more contracts are awarded,” he said. 

What RFP Covered

The RFP spelled out five goals a new network would need to reach.

“These goals support longstanding regional efforts to sustain and enhance our role as one of the research and technology hubs of the nation,” the RFP declares.

“To further these goals, the participating municipalities and associated governmental agencies may offer a variety of supporting assets, including access to existing, municipally-owned fiber; state and municipal rights-of-way; coordination with planned construction; colocation spaces; and the potential migration of existing service contracts for municipalities and off -campus university and healthcare facilities.”

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.