The town of Frisco wants to improve its access to the Internet, and is seeking suggestions on how best to do so.
The city hopes to improve internet access for its residents, businesses, and emergency services. The city sent out a request for proposals for broadband strategy plans on Friday, September 2, with a deadline for submission of October 14. The city council may award a bid on Tuesday, November 8.
Frisco currently relies on DSL and cable connections to access the Internet, said city communications director and project manager Vanessa Agee. As a result, the download and upload speeds are “not great”. The proposal sets goals for increasing speeds and adding redundancy to Frisco’s internet service.
“Internet access is fundamental to quality of life,” Agee said. Kids need it to finish homework, parents need it for work and many need it to broadcast their favorite TV show. Agee identified three reasons for improving Frisco’s Internet access: personal, emergency, and commerce.
When the internet at Frisco goes out — as it has several times in the past few months — companies lose the ability to get work done, and some even lose the ability to operate credit cards.
“It can be infuriating,” said Elizabeth Skripchak-Adrian, city councilor and owner of Rocky Mountain Coffee Roosters. Internet access is integral when so many shoppers rely on credit cards or Apple Pay, two services that are lost when the Internet goes out. And with so many travelers across the region who rely on Google Maps or online searches to navigate Frisco, Internet access is important for travelers, too, she said.
“It just slows everything down,” Skrzypczak-Adrian said of the internet outage in Frisco.
Agee said the plan would also look at the impacts on emergency services, which need reliable broadband and cellular service to send important and time-sensitive messages.
In February 2020, the Frisco City Council passed a “drill once” ordinance, allowing the city to install fiber infrastructure whenever excavation work is conducted for local, state, or private projects such as roadworks along Interstate 9 in Colorado. Lay the pipes underground where fiber-optic cables can be installed. With that foundation laid, Agee said it was time for the city to take the next step.
Frisco announced its call for proposals on September 2nd and bids are scheduled for October 14th at 4pm. The broadband plan is expected to take four to six months, according to the city’s news release.
Questions regarding the RFP are due by 4 p.m. on Friday, September 16, and responses to questions will be submitted by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21, at FriscoRFP.com.
A virtual meeting of interested parties will take place at 1pm on Tuesday, September 13th. Attendance is not required to submit a proposal. There is a link to the meeting in the proposal description at FriscoGov.com.
The broadband strategic plan will help the city chart its course. Age said the plan will outline the foundations the city has already laid, what additional needs are built and how Frisco achieves strong fiber connections in an affordable way. The plan will seek to determine whether a public, public-private or exclusive-private model is best for the city.
In addition to a general process with stakeholder interviews and one public meeting or survey to assess broadband needs and cost sensitivity, the plan will inventory and map Frisco’s existing broadband infrastructure, determine the impact of broadband availability on the community and proposed budget allocations. In addition, it will analyze different scenarios of the associated costs, such as whether you go in a private direction or operate publicly, and consider the costs of providing free and more widely available public Wi-Fi.
The project plan will also consider ways in which Frisco can conduct its business in northwestern Colorado THOR . projecta large-scale effort to improve Internet access in rural communities.