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State Tech Department Seeks Vendors for Broadband Work

In a new invitation for bid, the California Department of Technology is focusing in on the middle-mile aspect of creating a statewide broadband network.

Closeup of a pile of yellow broadband cables with blue caps.
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California’s tech department is calling for responses from IT vendors on a key aspect of a statewide technology initiative that’s likely to touch most of the state’s 40 million residents.

In an invitation for bid (IFB) released Friday, the California Department of Technology’s (CDT) Office of Broadband and Digital Literacy wants to hear from vendors capable of providing it with “Optical Fiber and Components for the Middle Mile Broadband Initiative” — a “competitive solicitation,” according to the IFB, that’s expected to yield “just-in-time” fiber and parts. Among the takeaways:

  • CDT delivers “information technology services to many state, county, federal and local government entities” statewide; and, via a “scalable, reliable and secure statewide network, combined with expertise in voice and data technologies,” which provides “comprehensive, cost-effective computing, networking, electronic messaging and training solutions” for residents’ benefit. However, many residents still lack sufficiently fast Internet service. An “open-access middle-mile network” like the one proposed and passed in the California statehouse will offer “priority to communities in need and will give service providers the infrastructure to help with people working from homes, businesses, and community institutions.” With this IFB, the state “intends to establish new contracts and partnering” with other state entities to help the state reach “its goals of being able to get service no matter your economic status.” State legislation signed in July provided for the investment of $6 billion into middle-mile and last-mile broadband. By executing these contracts, the IFB says, the state will be able to accomplish three goals: “Provide affordable, open-access, middle-mile broadband infrastructure to enable last-mile network connectivity throughout the state”; build the network “expeditiously, leveraging existing infrastructure, networks, and construction projects, where feasible”; and prioritize connecting unserved and underserved communities including institutions.
  • The initiative comprises five categories: conduit, vaults, optical fiber, construction hardware and network hub shelter. Vendors can submit a final bid in one or all categories. More than one contractor may be awarded a contract. The delivery timeline for each category is 15 calendar days; the testing and acceptance timeline for each is 30 calendar days. Among the categorized needs, CDT will need “prefabricated network hub shelters and related systems and components designed to provide a secure housing for network electronics” — a supply of prefab, concrete shelters that are steel-reinforced and designed to be installed on a pad of similar construction. The goal here is to “house network electronics,” with climate control, protection from the weather, full electrical power supply and a backup generator.
  • There’s no precise contract value stated. The estimated contract term is four years — through Dec. 31, 2026, with no extensions. A bidders’ conference is scheduled for March 22. Questions and requests for changes are due by 5 p.m. March 24; responses to questions will come March 28. Intent to bid letters are due by 5 p.m. March 30. Bid responses are due by 5 p.m. April 1 and will be evaluated April 4. Negotiations are expected April 11, followed by a notification of intent to award on April 20. The proposed contract execution date is April 21.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.