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State Tech Agency Issues Rural Connectivity Bid Invitation

The California Department of Technology has issued an Invitation for Bid seeking “fully managed statewide rural broadband connectivity service” for government customers.

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 technology agency is seeking assistance from vendors to improve rural connectivity.

In an Invitation for Bid (IFB) released Friday, the California Department of Technology (CDT) is requesting bids from “pre-qualified vendors from the state’s (electronic Vendor Application of Qualifications) eVAQ process” to offer a “fully managed statewide rural broadband connectivity service.” Among the takeaways:

  • Agencies including the California departments of Parks and Recreation (State Parks); Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR); Correctional Health Care Services; Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE); and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services “have shown an interest for a rural broadband connectivity service that serves their rural locations throughout the state,” per the IFB. It seeks “offers from vendors to support a fully managed rural broadband connectivity service” capable of supporting the public sector “in hard-to-reach locations and provide users with broadband-type connectivity supporting unlimited simultaneous usage at peak usage periods.” The solicitation’s primary goal is for vendors “to deploy and install equipment and software, help desk, a billing platform, and a reporting and analytics system … to operate a centrally-managed, rural broadband connectivity service” that will let public-sector customers access content including “health records, education programs, point of sale applications, first responder incident reporting, public safety hot spots, and other applications that require broadband cable speeds.”
  • State Parks partnered with CDT on the IFB, beginning the discovery process by exploring “options other than traditional terrestrial landline-based technologies to deliver broadband services into remote areas of the state,” its CIO Patrick Dennis told Techwire via email. State Parks was nominated as the sponsor department to lead development of the procurement and meetings with stakeholders.
    “As the executive sponsor, I facilitated a series of stakeholder meetings that were co-hosted by CDT. The overwhelming demand for rural connectivity amongst these programs resulted in tremendous participation,” Dennis said, indicating the partnership to craft the IFB included “multiple state departments.”  Other state entities participating include the California Conservation Corp; the departments of Employment Development, Fish and Wildlife, Transportation (Caltrans); and the California Judicial Council, CalRecycle and the California Highway Patrol.
  •  State entities like State Parks, CDCR, CAL FIRE, Caltrans, the Judicial Council and others, Dennis said, share “similar challenges” around supporting their administrative, operational and public safety apps in rural areas because of bandwidth limitations in their current networks.
    “To drastically improve the current rural network inefficiencies, it would cost state entities large up-front capital investments, major construction activity, and years to build out traditional network infrastructure to those rural areas throughout the state,” he said.

  • The vendor solution must have a “no up-front cost,” fully managed service model to support the connectivity service; and a managed service fee will be “inclusive” of cost elements incurred by the bidder including hardware and software implementation. Contractor responsibilities include standing up the hardware and software necessary to deliver broadband to remote locations statewide; delivering a 24/7 help desk; technology refreshes “as technology or business requirements change” during the contract; and a Web-based portal for customers to examine service-level agreements and monthly reports.
  • “The scope of this solicitation focuses on providing a rural broadband connectivity service throughout the state for agencies that have rural, hard-to-reach, non-traditional service areas,” per the IFB, which indicates the contract “will be mandatory for all non-exempt state entities”; and multiple contractors may be awarded a contract through the IFB. Local government agencies such as cities, counties and special districts may also use the contract, but aren’t required to use it to buy rural broadband connectivity services.
  • The contract value isn’t stated. However, the contract term is eight years once it’s approved by CDT Statewide Technology Procurement; with the option of two one-year extensions by the state, for a maximum term of 10 years. Intents to bid and confidentiality statements are due Monday. Written questions are due Feb. 15; state responses will come Feb. 19. Final bids are due by 3 p.m. March 19 and will be evaluated beginning March 22. Contract execution is expected “on or before” May 3.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.