Moline narrowed its search for a citywide broadband and fiber network provider to two potential companies: MetroNet and Windstream.
Moline has been working since 2019 to ensure that all city residents and businesses have access to at least 1 gigabyte of fiber service by building a ubiquitous fiber-to-the-premises (FttP) network.
To facilitate the RFP process, Moline engaged consulting firm CTC Technology & Energy. In response, the city received proposals from AT&T, Geneseo Communications, Mediacom, MetroNet and Windstream.
David Talbot, director of research services for CTC Technology, recommended that the city negotiate with Windstream and MetroNet as preferred suppliers. Of the five proposals, MetroNet and Windstream requested no financial contribution from the city and committed to providing services to every commercial and residential property within the city limits.
“MetroNet and Windstream are solid companies,” Talbot told city council members Tuesday. “At the simplest level, one of the key differentiators is that unlike the other three (companies), these two companies did not request any financial contribution from the city of Moline. Geneseo (Communications) requested $10 million, At&T was asking for $15.3 million and Mediacom for $22.1 million.”
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Talbot said those numbers don’t tell the whole story, as other services were offered by each company.
Council members had prioritized finding a company that would provide full citywide coverage and in doing so would bury the lines underground rather than build telephone poles above ground, although the access to multi-family residential dwellings and private roads cannot be guaranteed.
In its proposal, MetroNet said it would immediately begin construction of an FTP network in Moline to provide high-speed Internet service to homes and businesses. privately fund the construction and operation of the network, the cost of which is estimated at $11 million; bringing fiber to every neighborhood, creating a city-wide network; deliver gigabit Internet service to first customers before the end of 2022; and complete construction within one year.
Windstream said in its proposal that it would place 183 miles of 1-gigabit service fiber throughout the city and the Rock Island Arsenal within two years, creating a citywide fiber broadband network; and fund construction and implementation at an estimated cost of $19.9 million.
“The need for fiber broadband is greater than ever, especially in certain rural areas that have historically lagged due to geographic and economic deployment barriers,” Windstream said in its proposal. “We are pursuing our own $2 billion fiber deployment strategy to extend gigabit Internet service to rural America.”
City Administrator Bob Vitas said a final decision on the company chosen by city council would be the final step in the process based on the CTC’s recommendation.