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New Contract Offers Statewide Rural Connectivity

Months in the making, the new contract from the California departments of Technology and Parks and Recreation is expected to give state entities the chance to deploy new connectivity or bolster existing service.

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Two linchpin departments have announced a contract award that’s expected to offer state entities the chance to significantly improve connectivity in underserved areas.

The California Department of Technology has awarded a contract for Statewide Rural Connectivity to four companies — AccessParks of La Jolla; Special Order Systems DBA TeamSOS of Loomis; Technology Crest Corp. of Citrus Heights; and Wi-Fiber LLC of Camp Springs, Md. The contract’s effective date was June 22, and it’s the result of months of planning and work by CDT in partnership with the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR). CDPR was the sponsor agency for contract establishment, and its Chief Information Officer Patrick Dennis was the executive sponsor, he told Techwire Monday. Among the takeaways:

  • The contract is aimed at providing statewide rural broadband connectivity to state entities that may lack it in some way, according to its user instructions. Use of this statewide contract is mandatory for nonexempt state of California entities. It provides “a vetted list of four licensed contractors that primarily install fixed wireless technologies in hard-to-reach areas throughout the state.” Each such installation, per the instructions, “will be a custom ‘design build’ implementation” taking an average of six to eight weeks. Some of the prime contractors “will be utilizing California-licensed subcontractors.”
  • This contract is different from many other business models that typical Internet service providers may follow, the CIO said, indicating its “zero up-front cost and managed service model” made it unique and innovative in the way it is structured and “innovative in its approach to obtain rural connectivity for state and local entities to use to expand government services."
    “These companies seemed to already have a track record of utilizing this model and delivering rural connectivity as a service. So that kind of set them apart,” Dennis said.
  • The pact doesn’t in any way compete with services available through The California Network and Telecommunications (CALNET) Program. In fact, departments seeking to utilize it are asked to self-certify that the services they’re seeking aren’t attainable via CALNET. The process leading to the contract’s invitation for bid (covered earlier this year by Techwire) included workgroup meetings to consider potential use cases as well as requirements around security, backups, simultaneous usages and other potentialities. Project expectations included the possibility that state assets and buildings might be leveraged to create economies of scale for participating agencies or departments. Going forward, officials will convene another workgroup of users of this new contract, to share successes, lessons learned and upcoming projects. Dennis said he will “facilitate” the new workgroup.
    “Our intent was to create a playbook so that it’s repeatable, there’s a repeatable process to it. So that when the need for a future statewide contract arises, if another state agency wants to be a sponsor for it, they have an established process that they can use. Even though we were efficient in how we did it, I think it will set the groundwork for future statewide contracts to be established even quicker,” he said.
  • The contract base term is eight years with the option of two one-year extensions by the state. It’s available via Public Procurement Information in the California State Government Marketplace and by searching Contract ID “STP-SW-RCP-21” under State Contracts/Leveraged Procurement Agreements (LPAs).
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.