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Silicon Valley City Seeks Information on Broadband

San Jose has released a request for information on citywide high-speed Internet with goals including private-sector financing, affordability and the leveraging of its physical assets to boost adoption and speed.

San Jose City Hall
San Jose City Hall
Eyragon Eidam/Government Technology
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The state’s third most populous city wants to improve its connectivity and is looking to hear from vendors on how to do that.

In a request for information (RFI) released Jan. 11, the city of San Jose wants to forge a “Partnership for Gigabit Speed Broadband Internet.” With more than 1 million residents, San Jose trails only Los Angeles and San Diego in population in California. Among the takeaways:

  • The RFI is intended to “gather the state of the industry for developing a citywide open access fiber network(s) or similarly performing technology,” to accomplish San Jose’s goals in this area within five years. San Jose’s goals are creating a “citywide, universal/near universal 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) symmetrical speed network” that can efficiently scale to multi-gigabit; having it rely totally on “private-sector financing for construction, operations, maintenance, and resiliency” with no cost to the city or residents; easy access to free, heavily discounted or grant-supported high-speed Internet for “residents, non-profits, and businesses that are low-income, or historically marginalized or disadvantaged”; supporting critical city functions like “traffic signaling, transportation and utilities management, and Internet of Things/smart cities solutions”; and offering free or greatly discounted high-speed Internet to “schools, community centers, libraries, medical facilities” and in parks and public locations around the city.
  • The goals support San Jose’s efforts to be “the most innovative city in the nation” and to empower residents and businesses with network access and the related skills for a “connected digital life and economy,” per the RFI. To reach its goals, San Jose may offer supporting assets including “city-owned fiber, conduit, streetlight/traffic poles, buildings, vacant lots/land, and rights-of-way access” as well as coordination with planned city construction or roadway repaving; expedited permitting; and collaborating on state and federal funding and grant proposals.
  • San Jose seeks “innovative business models and partnerships” to realize its goals and welcomes “ideas and recommendations from all interested or potentially interested parties.” Respondents are encouraged to collaborate on ideas and recommendations; they’re asked but not required to respond on all five goals. The city encourages those interested to “respond to any and all relevant aspects of this RFI.” The RFI’s main objective is gathering “options, methods, approaches, ideas, and applied experience” from respondents. “Availability (access), cost (affordability), and use (adoption) of service” are important success criteria, according to the RFI, and San Jose seeks solutions that maximize success across all three. Respondent perspectives, “including any limitations to ubiquity and explanations of the sufficiency of current and planned infrastructure to meet the universal/near universal 1Gbps goal within five years” will be welcomed, to inform San Jose’s direction. The city wants solutions that make use of its physical assets to boost Internet adoption and one gigabyte speed availability citywide. Respondents are encouraged to suggest solutions that “identify permitting and lease process improvements”; and to present creative ideas for extending broadband to those with low connectivity or adoption, low-income households, seniors and non-English speakers. Equitable access that reverses “historic geographic patterns of underinvestment and promot[es] business practices in line with the city’s goals around racial equity” is also key, as is resilient service and data privacy.
  • Questions on the RFI are due by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, and responses will come Feb. 3. Responses to the RFI are due by 4:30 p.m. Feb. 15.

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Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.