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State Parks Issues Wi-Fi, Broadband RFP

The California Department of Parks and Recreation seeks a vendor to offer residents “statewide Wi-Fi ‘pay as you go’ service at pre-determined park locations,” on a 10-year contract.

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Editor’s note: this article has been updated to include comment from California Department of Parks and Recreation Chief Information Officer Patrick Dennis.

The state parks department is seeking vendors to provide communication services for visitors statewide.

In a Request for Proposals (RFP) released Oct. 23, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) is seeking responses for its Statewide Wi-Fi and Broadband Internet Concession, to provide residents a “statewide Wi-Fi ‘pay as you go’ service at pre-determined park locations.”

In an interview with Techwire in June, CDPR Chief Information Officer Patrick Dennis said the concession — the first of its type at the department — was the initiative he was “most excited about.”

“There’s a large desire out there, I think, to expand access to a new generation of park visitors,” Dennis said Friday. “We think this service might help to brand and appeal to younger visitors and create a whole new generation interested in exploring California’s beautiful state parks.”

Among the takeaways:

• The RFP seeks “fully managed” Wi-Fi and broadband Internet connectivity service in “113 mandatory state parks and 101 optional state parks” in the 21 field districts that make up the California State Park system. Connectivity service at the mandatory sites must be finished within 24 months of the contract’s execution; at the optional sites, the vendor selected will have 36 months for completion. The solution must include a “‘no up-front cost,’ fully managed service model” to support connectivity solutions such as enhanced Wi-Fi for visitors; Wi-Fi for park partners such as other concession holders and “cooperating associations”; and other service enhancements like extending broadband infrastructure to remote park areas to accommodate electronic payments.

• The vendor’s model must include equipment and infrastructure installation and maintenance; a 24/7 help desk; a Service Level Agreement; reporting, analytics and technology refresh. The solicitation’s scope centers on offering Wi-Fi Internet service on a “ ‘pay as you go’ plan to park visitors” during visits of up to 30 days; the service must also let visitors transfer and use any unpaid portion of a service to any park also offering that service without any additional cost; and make the Wi-Fi service available to subscribing park partners.

• Minimum requirements for the successful respondent include offering an implementation approach with “minimal impact to existing park operations and visitors” and which considers limitations throughout state parks including remote access, available physical space, historic buildings, California Coastal Commission restrictions, a potential lack of power, and staff availability. The successful bidder must also pay minimum monthly rent of $1 or eight percent of monthly gross receipts, whichever is greater, plus two percent of monthly gross receipts “deposited into a Facility Improvement and IT Services Account(FIISA),” to be used at state direction on “additional connectivity projects to enhance park safety and the visitor experience using the concessionaire’s connectivity infrastructure within each park.”

• Respondents’ description of technology benefits should include whether their service attracts “a different demographic of users (i.e. increased visitation)”; public safety benefits; real-time visitor subscription and usage statistics; educational benefits “that tie into State Parks ‘Interpretive Programs’”; and the benefits of service “supporting minimum 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload without impacting simultaneous usage on end-user devices” such as tablets and smartphones. Respondent’s wireless broadband Wi-Fi must provide “guaranteed speed minimums of 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload for Wi-Fi on every user device in “peak evening hours”; “fiber-fed connectivity to any location”; non line-of-site backhaul to remote sites; Internet connectivity, for low bandwidth apps; voice-over-IP; roaming across any state park or campground on one account; and equipment refresh at end-of-life.

Regarding cybersecurity, the concessionaire chosen must ensure that end-user data that’s collected and transmitted when users enroll in wireless Internet is encrypted using the Secure Sockets Layer protocol” and must include “intrusion detection processes that detect multiple log-in attempts” and, in response, block attempts by “the suspect MAC address.”

• The duration of the concession is 10 years; its value is not specified. There’s no minimum capital outlay — but in any case, it must result in zero cost to the state. Letters indicating intent to bid and written questions on the RFP are due Tuesday; state responses to questions will be released Nov. 10. Responses to the RFP are due Dec. 3, with proposals evaluated during December. Award notification is expected in January, with contract execution in January-February.

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