REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

  1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

This Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Feasibility Study is being issued by the town of Williamstown, Massachusetts in support of its strategic evaluation of the options for making broadband available to its residents and businesses. The town of Williamstown is located in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, bordering on the states of New York and Vermont. The residents of the town currently receive internet services primarily through Charter Communications/Spectrum, formerly Time-Warner Cable. Through the Massachusetts Broadband Initiative, (MBI) fiber optic cable is present within the town at a small number of Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) and is used by institutions such as Williams College and The Clark Art Institute, but is not generally available to residents and businesses.

The town is undertaking a formal process to evaluate the options to make fiber optic broadband available to its residents and businesses. This evaluation process is in furtherance of an initiative for 2015-2016 by the Board of Selectmen to “undertake a conceptual analysis on costs, benefits and options for deciding whether town should pursue generally available broadband access.” Similarly, in 2015, the Selectmen formed an Economic Development Committee (EDC) to make recommendations to enhance the opportunities for economic development. One of the EDC recommendations in its December 2015 report is that the town “should continue to investigate the potential of broadband access to be a community asset for both residents and businesses, and to understand the project scope, costs, benefits and organizational options for such a project so that an informed decision can be made whether to pursue broadband access.”  Most recently, in May 2017, Williamstown Town Meeting voted unanimously to authorize “a study of the feasibility of expansion of broadband service including market conditions, cost, operations and technical considerations”. This RFP is being issued in furtherance of these recommendations.

The information generated by the feasibility study will be used by the town in making its strategic decisions on broadband access and seeking approval for funding any projects in the future, including for the design and construction of the proposed alternative. Responding to this RFP is not a prerequisite for participation in any future solicitation process.

Williamstown’s population consists of approximately 7,599 persons, per the 2013 US Census update, of which about 2,000 are students at Williams College. Town records indicate that there are approximately 2,500 dwelling premises. Households and businesses are predominantly located in the town’s ‘core’ area. Cable access currently is provided almost entirely by telephone poles and the town has minimal underground electrical utilities. The town has about 53 miles of town roads and 16 miles of state roads, and a small number of unaccepted roads. Detailed GIS maps of Williamstown are available at http://www.axisgis.com/williamstownma/.

  1. SCHEDULE AND CONTACT INFORMATION

Set out below is the schedule for actions under this RFP:

        Release of RFP                                July 27, 2017

        Written questions due to Williamstown        August 11, 2017, 4:00pm

        Williamstown’s responses to questions        August 18, 2017

        RFP Responses due to Williamstown                September 6, 2017, 4:00pm

Questions and responses to the RFP should be submitted electronically to:

Town of Williamstown – Broadband RFP

Email: BroadbandRFP@williamstownma.gov

  1. SERVICES REQUESTED

  1. Community Interest and Market Opportunity

The study should provide an overview of current broadband providers’ services, pricing strategies and coverage area.  Based on this overview, the study should conduct a market analysis to establish a likely market penetration rate for a fiber system and clarify which benefits from a new fiber network might be most important to the residents and businesses. The study should measure community interest in subscribing to a fiber system and estimate the ‘take rate’ of how many subscribers are necessary to ensure the financial viability of the system, and what a associated consumer fees would be necessary to sustain the system. Proposals should discuss what approach is proposed to accomplish this task, such as:

  1. System Design, Construction and Operation Costs
  1. This task should generate conceptual cost estimates for the design and construction of the infrastructure needed for a fiber optic network, identifying the major components of the infrastructure and your assumptions as to what project elements are included or excluded. The study should also give budgetary estimates for the type and range of annual operating and maintenance costs for the system, which can be based on a town-operated system or a third party contract operator. GIS maps should be included. The study should evaluate the option of a phased build out of infrastructure vs. a single build out such as, for example, serving the core of the town first and the outlying parts of town later. The study may analyze up to three different geographic scopes of service within town boundaries.

  1. Provide an assessment of requirements and risks relevant to the building or operation of a network and related partnership arrangements, and how these risks and requirements change depending on what aspects of the system are owned or operated by the town or by a contract vendor.
  2. The study should prepare financial projections for at least two project scenarios as selected by the Town, covering:

  1. CONTENTS OF PROPOSALS

Responses to this RFP should include in their proposals:

  1. A restatement of the goals, objectives and project tasks to demonstrate the responder’s view of the project and your approach to this project. Please reference the Services Requested in your responses.

  1. Discussion of the respondent’s corporate history and structure.

  1. A description of the respondent’s experience in delivering each of the relevant services listed in the Services Requested section above. Please include work in Massachusetts and in rural communities. Respondents should include links to sample prior studies.

  1. At least three references from previous similar projects.

  1. Identification of key personnel who will conduct the project and provide detail of their training and work experience. No change in key personnel assigned to the project will be allowed without the approval of the Town

  1. A detailed work plan to include:
  1. Tasks to be accomplished and the budget hours to be expended for each task and subtask. (This will be used as a work plan and managing tool for basis of invoicing.)
  2. Identify project timeline with deliverables and key milestones.
  3. Provide detail regarding local involvement and services expected to complete the project. Details should include number and purpose of onsite meetings.
  4. Identify areas of risk for the project based on the detailed work plan and schedule for all aspects of the project.
  5. Provide detailed cost estimate of the study, by task, including known project expenses, professional hourly rates and multipliers and estimated service/task hours with a “Not to Exceed” cap. Other ancillary expenses related to the completion of the study will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.


V. Evaluation Criteria and Selection

The Town will evaluate all proposals using the following criteria to conduct a best value evaluation:

Selection of the consultant for this project will be based on the criteria noted above. After evaluating all proposals, the Town may choose to interview the top candidates. Upon selection, the Town will enter into negotiations with the selected consultant to develop a Professional Services Agreement and finalize the work plan including budget hours. Should the Town and the selected consultant fail to satisfactorily reach agreement to the work plan, including budget, the Town may enter into negotiations with the respondent judged second in the evaluation process, or may re-advertise for proposals.