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Request for Proposals: Butler County Rural Broadband Project

Butler County Rural Broadband Project

 

Butler County Fiscal Court and the Butler County IDA Board, Butler County, Kentucky

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

Provider(s) to Deploy, Operate, and Maintain an Infrastructure Network to Provide Fiber Internet Services to Households in the County

Acceptance Date:            July 8, 2022 at 9:00AM CST (local time)

Acceptance Location:     Butler County Fiscal Court

                                             Butler County Courthouse

                                             c/o Judge Executive Tim Flener

                                             110 N. Main Street

                                             Morgantown, KY 42261

Proposals may also be submitted via email to tim.flener@butlercoky.com and mjones@jonesfuneralchapel.com.

Requests for information or questions related to this RFP should be directed to both:

               Judge Tim Flener, Butler County: tim.flener@butlercoky.com

               Marty Jones, Butler County IDA Board: mjones@jonesfuneralchapel.com

Information will be answered within 48 hours of receipt.

Issued: June 22, 2022

 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

 

NOTICE

The Butler County Fiscal Court and Butler County IDA Board will receive proposals c/o Judge Executive Tim Flener, 110 N. Main Street, Morgantown, KY 42661, until 9:00AM CST (local time), July 8, 2022.  Electronic submissions must be submitted to both: tim.flener@butlercoky.com and mjones@jonesfuneralchapel.com.  Proposals may be submitted in person, via mail, or via email; late proposals will not be accepted. 

The proposals shall concern detailing qualification and ability from parties interested in providing an analysis of current availability of broadband services in Butler County and formulating a proposed plan outlining the design, deployment, operation and maintenance of a fiber broadband services network to unserved/underserved non-RDOF areas in Butler County. 

These proposals must be a detailed accounting of the respondent’s history, capability, available resources and proposed methodology to achieve the desired goal of designing and constructing a fiber network system capable of delivering high speed broadband minimum of 100/100 Mbps to all unserved/underserved areas within the county. 

Proposals will be accepted until 9:00AM Central Standard Time, Friday, July 8, 2022.  Any qualified firm or individual interested in offering these services may obtain a copy of this document by contacting Tim Flener (tim.flener@butlerky.com) or Emily Hathcock (emily.hathcock@bradd.org)   

The hearing and/or speech impaired may call 1-800-648-6057 and an interpreter will call Butler County for you. 

Butler County reserves the right to reject any and all submittals, to waive any informalities and to negotiate for the modifications of any proposal or to accept that proposal(s) which is deemed most desirable and advantageous from the standpoint of cost to the County, timeline to begin construction of fiber network, timeline to finish construction, customer value and service and concept of operations. 

The Butler County Fiscal Court is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  WBE/MBE firms are encouraged to respond to this Request for Proposals. 

CONTENTS

 

General Information

 

Community at a Glance

Project Overview

Required Disclosures

Required Licenses

RFP Schedule

Project Requirements

RFP Response Required Elements

RFP Proposer Questions/Addendum Process

Submission Information

Evaluation Team and RFP Scoring Criteria

Statement of Non-Binding Nature of RFP

Intellectual Property, Confidentiality and Open Records

REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS

 

1. General Information

Access to reliable and affordable broadband internet connectivity is not a new issue for Kentucky’s rural families and small businesses.  The desire to connect all citizens has been crucial to economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, education, and quality of life in America.  This RFP/RFQ reflects the commitment of Butler County to ensure high-speed broadband is available to as many residents and businesses in Butler County as possible.  The County seeks to provide an immediate solution to non-RDOF rural areas, leveraging existing infrastructure, whether publicly or privately owned.

The COVID-19 pandemic fully exposed the deficiency of broadband connectivity in the rural Commonwealth because accessible and affordable broadband options are a lifeline to education, healthcare, and employment.  The County recognizes many residents have access to high-speed service because they live in areas where it is technically feasible and cost-effective for local internet service providers (ISP) to provide this service.  However, such service is not available everywhere in the County due to the high cost of construction and, with respect to wireless coverage, technical challenges related to wireless propagation.  These hurdles include low-density development, long driveways, and requirements for underground construction, tree cover, and topography.  Extended infrastructure needs and lower population densities crate unique challenges for private industry to deliver services within an affordable framework on its own.  Providing connections to these unserved and underserved areas is vital to the region’s future. 

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), approximately 28.6% of the 4,823 households in Butler County do not have internet service.  Of those that do have internet service, the median speed of service is 10.68/2.42 Mbps, a speed that will not support the digital technologies required for remote healthcare, education, and working environments.  The County has decided to explore the potential for closing this broadband availability gap by offering direct capital funding to support the deployment, construction and operation of a fiber network to the unserved/underserved areas of non-RDOF covered portions of Butler County.  The purpose of this funding will be to help offset the capital cost of the initial infrastructure needed to reach those areas and residences that would not otherwise be cost effective to provide service to for private ISPs.  This funding is only available to portions of Butler County not presently covered by the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

This RFP/RFQ is intended to receive proposals stating qualifications from interested partners who have the technical expertise, resources and capacity to design, deploy, operate and maintain a fiber network capable of minimum 100/100 Mbps and up to at least 1 Gigps of broadband internet access infrastructure and provide access to retail service operations that will support dedicated broadband connectivity that exceeds FCC minimum standards to the areas of the County not already served and not planned to be served.  The intent is to construct a fiber network that will work toward the longtime goal of affordable countywide accessibility to every household in Butler County, Kentucky, which has shown to be a necessity during recent months and has been recently further determined by federal, state and local governments as a priority for preparation of future planning to mitigate personal, business, healthcare, economic and education problems that were experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

All interested firms must provide a comprehensive proposal detailing their qualifications to reach these objectives, meeting all required elements listed in this RFP/RFQ to be evaluated by the RFP Review Committee.  The provider(s) with responses judged to be the highest quality may be invited to a formal presentation for the RFP Review Committee if so desired and the response/presentation ultimately identified as the recommended submission will be engaged in negotiation to deliver these services.  The County encourages collaboration among applicants as necessary to meet the goals of this RFP. 

2. Community Expansion Project at a Glance

The Fiber Construction for Broadband Internet Expansion Project is comprised of non-RDOF unserved and underserved areas of Butler County, Kentucky as identified in the attached map.  The project will be focused in two separate areas: Area “A” and Area “B”. Area “A” includes projects east of the Green River and Area  “B” includes project west of the Green River. Firms may provide proposals to provide service in one or more areas as identified in the map.  Proposals must be specific on areas to be addressed. 

3. Project Overview

The Fiber Construction and Broadband Expansion Project of Butler County desires to identify a qualified partner(s) through this Request for Proposals/Qualifications.  This proposal shall propose a (i) timeline, (ii) cost to design and deploy, and (iii) construction of a network within the unserved/underserved areas of Butler County.  The goal of the project is to provide the availability of broadband connections to those unserved/underserved homes in the geographic region.  The proposal in response to this RFP will serve as the basis for determining the provider(s) best positioned to successfully undertake the endeavor and negotiate a contract with Butler County to design, implement, construct and operate a fiber network to as many premises in the County as possible. 

Project goals are listed below.  The response to this Request for Qualifications (Proposal) should demonstrate the ability and qualifications of the respondent to meet the stated goals. 

Assess current access to broadband with available speeds and identify current/on-going gaps in service for unserved and underserved non-RDOF areas of Butler County.

Develop a proposed system design that:

Remediates unserved/underserved areas of the County with a minimum speed meeting the FCC definition for broadband, but that strives to exceed this minimum standard (desired minimum speed of 100/100 Mbps minimum standard for broadband)

Identifies the infrastructure needed to support the delivery of leading-edge broadband services consistent with proposed design

Supports the operational needs of individuals and businesses through a platform of high-speed internet services ranging from a minimum of 100/100 Mbps and capable of at least 1 Gbps

Establishes the conditions that strive to offer a competitive rate structure for the products and services delivered to end users over the network; guaranteeing the competitive start price for residences/consumer for a minimum of three years

Uses fiber and all available technology options to deliver a sustainable infrastructure that is as robust and flexible as practical.

Establish Butler County, Kentucky and the surrounding region as being at the forefront of the most connected communities in the Commonwealth.

Provides flexibility such that the system design may be implemented as constructed, or as a whole, or in phases, but completed within a 2 year period.

Provides for long-term service delivery to end-users with a high-quality product and superior customer service, at a stated customer price levels to be guaranteed with no increases for at least 3 years.  If the provider(s) is already providing service in some areas of the County, the County requires that the provider(s) provide the same pricing and service tiers for data services (at least 100/100 Mbps) over the assets in the newly served areas, as in the currently served areas.

Is able to be implemented as expediently and professionally as possible without compromising the integrity of the project. Time is of the essence; therefore, Butler County has determined that an aggressive timeline is a major goal of this project and the ability to meet this goal should be reflected in submitted responses, requesting a construction startup at no more than 60 days, and fiber construction completed and internet service activation to be available within 2 years. 

Has full transparency to the Butler County Fiscal Court.

Is sustainable on a long-term basis.

Responses will be evaluated for evidence of the respondent’s ability to meet the project goals and implementation of a designed system pursuant to the scoring criteria listed in this RFP and formal presentation if selected as a finalist.  The identified partner(s) will move forward with negotiations to enter into an agreement with Butler County, to begin implementation of the scope of work identified in this RFP and the stated terms. 

The County intends to contribute direct capital funding to support deployment of rural broadband coverage infrastructure and specified products in order to stimulate economic development in the targeted rural geographical areas.  The County does not intend to enter the broadband business as a competitive service provider.  The County does not intend to own the network infrastructure assets it financially supports through this RFP process.  The County does not intend to operate the network enterprise it financially supports through this RFP process.  The network enterprise will be owned and operated by the selected provider(s), as per the contract to be negotiated with the County. 

4. Required Disclosures

The anticipated project may not be governed in its entirety by provisions of the model procurement code.  However, pursuant to the provisions of KRS 45A.343, the contractor or vendor is required to reveal to the Counties and final determination of a violation of KRS Chapters 136, 139, 141, 337, 338, and 342 by the contractor or vendor within the previous five (5) years; and further that said contractor or vendor has been and is in continuous compliance with the provisions of KRS Chapters 136, 139, 141, 337, 341, and 342 for the duration of the contract and local franchise.  The failure of a contractor or vendor to reveal a final determination of a violation to the County government, or to comply with the statutory requirements, is considered grounds for cancellation of a contract and disqualification of the contractor or vendor from eligibility for any County contracts for a period of two (2) years. 

THE BUTLER COUNTY FISCAL COURT RESERVES THE RIGH TO REJECT ANY AND ALL SUBMSSIONS AND TO WAVE FORMALITIES. 

5. Required Licenses

All interested parties must possess all federal, state and/or local qualifications/licenses to provide services in Butler County, Kentucky and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. 

6. RFP Schedule

Submittals will be opened on July 8, 2022, at 9:00AM (local time) with the intention of completing the review by July 22, 2022.  Tentative notification of finalist: July 29, 2022.

7. Project Requirements

The Butler County Fiber Construction and Broadband Expansion Project desires to identify a qualified partner through this Request for Proposal/Qualifications who can assess the current availability/quality of broadband internet services within Butler County and then design and construct a fiber network within all the unserved/underserved non-RDOF areas of the county to provide the availability of broadband connections to each residence within those unserved/underserved geographic areas.  The County is desiring to construct to every home in the unserved and underserved non-RDOF areas where active fiber internet is not currently provided. 

Butler County is seeking a private or public partner that will provide enterprise-grade internet services to individuals and businesses located in areas that are currently unserved or underserved to meet the needs requiring broadband connectivity.  The County expects that the provider(s) will provide a turnkey solution for the delivery of products and services that include assessment of current conditions, design, engineering, procurement, permitting, construction, operation, maintenance and repair, and regulatory compliance network, and that the designed network will be adaptable for future growth and technology.  The proposed solution should be consistent with project goals listed in section three (3) of the Request for Proposals.  Any system design must, at a minimum, provide speeds consistent with the FCC definition for broadband but strive to exceed this minimum standard. 

Potential partners with the top ranked submissions will be notified by the County as outlined in the RFP timeline, section six (6), and may be asked to provide a formal presentation to the selection committee highlighting the ability to meet the goals and objectives as provided in this Request, as well as any additional information relevant to consideration that may include but is not limited to:

Relevant market studies/analysis;

General fiber infrastructure design examples from past projects;

Proposed project timeline for analysis, design, construction and end user subscription;

Residential expansion capabilities and desires;

Financing capacity/proformas;

Proposed team with illustration of their experience and qualifications;

Illustration of unique qualifications, skills, or value to the project.

The partner(s) with the proposal judged to be the most responsive proposal submission will be engaged to define the scope of work and terms, including but not limited to project completion timeline, public costs/investment for project implementation.  Once approved, Butler County expects project work to begin immediately, with construction in the new areas to begin in 60 days from the award of the bid, and final completion of the overall construction project and providing broadband services within 24 months.  This proposer should expect an aggressive construction timeline and the successful respondent(s) should be prepared to meet aggressive timelines for design, build-out and activation of the network.  It should be noted that the project does not consider wireless, unlicensed or fixed licensed, a suitable sole option for the long-term sustainability for meeting its broadband needs; however, providing wireless offerings in conjunction with a core hardline service connection may be considered, and in some cases desired.

8.  RFQ/RFP Response Required Elements

All interested parties whom seek to develop a partnership with Butler County as part of the Fiber Construction and Broadband Expansion Project must submit a response in the form of a proposal that outlines their qualifications and ability to meet the goals, objectives and requirements illustrated in this Request for Proposal/Qualifications.  The response will be used to evaluate the most appropriate fit for the project.  To achieve a full, fair and uniform review process, all submittals must include three (3) hard copy originals and one (1) electronic copy of the response that includes the following components in order to be judged responsive to this RFP:

Section 1. Provide a Letter of Transmittal on company letterhead stating why the respondent is interested in developing a partnership with Butler County and providing a listing of any requirements listed in this RFP that it is unable to meet.

Section 2. Provide an overview of the respondent’s organization, services, partners, resources and capabilities.  Provide details on the company’s (or its shareholders) knowledge, experience and operations within the broadband telecommunications industry and, if applicable, infrastructure development in the region, as well as key expertise that qualifies it to be considered in this RFP.

Section 3. If a current broadband provider, include an overview of your products and services, operations, total subscriber count, type of services (business/residential), local presence in the region and other markets served.  Demonstrate any similar arrangements with regional municipalities, electric utilities, or other public-private partnerships in this region of Kentucky.

Section 4. Provide a project organization chart of the business showing how the initiative will be organized.  Provide information that demonstrates the ability of the business to provide the capital financing required to implement a proposed system design.  This section should also identify specific funding contributions and resources required from Butler County Fiscal Court to make the financials viable.

Section 5. Include a detailed narrative that clearly and completely addresses the project goals, objectives and desired outcomes as illustrated in this document with particular emphasis and detail given to the information provided in sections 3 and 7 of this RFP.  Illustrate an approach that is designed to be implemented.

Section 6. Define the roles and responsibilities for the respondent, the County and other partners, if any, including any other requirements.  Define how the respondent’s proposal will comply with local, state and federal regulatory requirements.

Section 7. Provide a minimum of three (3) industry/municipality references that demonstrate the respondent’s ability to successfully plan, implement and deploy fiber broadband networks products and services using innovative public and/or private environments.

Section 8. Provide any additional supporting information, documentation or materials that illustrate the qualifications and ability of the proposer to meet the goals, objectives and requirements outlined in this RFP.

9.  RFQ Proposer Questions/Addendum Process

Questions relating to definitions, interpretations, information and/or requests for clarification must be in writing, on or before July 1, 2022 at 9:00AM CST, directed to:

Tim Flener (tim.flener@butlerky.com) or Emily Hathcock (emily.hathcock@bradd.org). 

All questions and/or clarification submittals shall identify the request in the subject line of the email message as follows: RFP Clarification: Butler County Fiber Expansion/Internet Services

No questions will be accepted after the deadline for questions has passed.  Responses to questions or requests for clarification regarding this RFP will be issued in writing as an addendum and distributed to the RFP holder list.  Any such addenda shall be issued by July 1, 2022 at 4:00PM CST and shall be considered part of the RFP.

10. Submission Information

Submission Date and Time: No later than July 8, 2022 at 9:00AM Central Standard Time

The proposal must be submitted to the Butler County Fiscal Court, Butler County Courthouse, c/o Judge Executive Tim Flener, 110 N. Main Street, Morgantown, KY 42261 by the above referenced submission date and time.  Proposals may also be submitted via email to tim.flener@butlercoky.com and mjones@jonesfuneralchapel.com.

Only those responses received prior to or on the submission date and time will be considered.

11. Evaluation Team and RFP Scoring Criteria

The Broadband Expansion RFP Review Committee will evaluate the responses submitted and will be evaluated on the following criteria to determine the finalist(s):

Technical Approach and Expertise                                                                                                       35 points

Financial soundness and capability to meet RFP goals and objectives                                       15 points

Past Performance                                                                                                                                    35 points

Capacity and experience of personnel                                                                                                25 points

Familiarity and experience, including local accessibility                                                                50 points

Utilizing additional broadband funding, including state and other federal sources                              20 points

The review process – the broadband expansion RFP Review Committee will evaluate submittals based upon the criteria outlined above.  The committee may, at their discretion, request any or all respondents to clarify information presented in the submittal.

 

Finalist(s) will be determined based upon scoring of criteria outlined above.  The recommended submission will be determined by the Committee following a formal presentation by the finalists.  Once a provider(s) has been selected, the County and the provider(s) will refine the vision for the project and finalize the terms of an agreement, to be entered into by the County and the provider.  

 


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