Hartford issues RFI for free citywide Wi-Fi network

Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez is following San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s lead in trying to bring free citywide Wi-fi access to Hartford, Connecticut (population 123,000; area: 17 square miles or 31 square kilometers).Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez is following San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s lead in trying to bring free citywide Wi-fi access to Hartford, Connecticut (population 123,000; area: 17 square miles or 31 square kilometers).

The city issued a Request for Informational Response (really an RFI) seeking private sector companies to partner with the municipality not only to create a citywide wireless network that offers free access to residents, but also to provide training and low cost equipment for city residents (like San Francisco). Responses are due no later than 2pm (local time) on 10 January 2006.

The city estimates that less than 33% of Hartford families have access to a computer and Internet access in their homes. In households making $15,000 a year or less, 83% lack access to the Internet. This compares with Hartford’s neighboring towns were between 60-70% of households have access to computers and the Internet.

Mayor Perez says:

For too long Hartford residents have been on the wrong side of the digital divide. The rapid evolution of technology has made Internet access and proficiency essential to everything from applying for a job to opening a checking account. We need to provide access to this technology for our residents so they can create better economic and educational opportunities for their families.

The release of the RFI is the work of the Mayor’s WiFi Task Force chaired by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Matt Hennessy that included representatives from Metro Hartford Information Services, The Hartford Public Library and the City Purchasing Division. “The city is lucky to have both the human capital and technology infrastructure to bring this complex project closer to reality. Mayor Perez’s WiFi effort has the potential to open new doors of opportunity for so many of our residents.” Hennessy stated.

The city hopes a public private partnership will serve a market of residents that has not had access to Internet service up to this point. Under the city’s plan the Blue Hills and Downtown neighborhoods will be “live” next summer (5 June 2006 says the RFI). It is anticipated that the city’s other residential neighborhoods will be connected to the network shortly after the pilot neighborhoods go on-line.

Details of the RFI

Respondents can propose a plan that includes wired networks. Moreover, they should include in their responses how they propose to provide low-cost computers and training to low-income individuals. The city’s IT organization – Metro Hartford Information Services (MHIS) – operates a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) connecting all schools, libraries, fire houses, and municipal buildings. The MAN currently consists of leased and owned dark fiber with OC 12 ATM and 100Mbps/1Gbps Ethernet links. They have plans to upgrade the network to 1Gbps Ethernet at most locations by early 2006. MHIS will make access to this network available to carry Hartford Open WiFi traffic. Respondents have the option of proposing to utilize the City’s MAN as the Hartford Open WiFi backbone, or proposing construction of a separate backbone network.

Similarities to San Francisco’s RFI

Parts of the Hartford RFI are identical to San Francisco’s RFI. Section 2.8 (Basic Requirements) of the Hartford RFI which begins on page 6 is copied almost word-for-word from the SF RFI’s Definition of Basic Requirements. Even the Questions to Candidates (Hartford RFI, section 2.10) is identical to the SF RFI’s Questions to Respondents.

To get the bid documents

The RFQ can be viewed at www.RFPdepot.com. Warning: you have to sign up and it takes a while to get access to the bid documents (at least that was my experience with the Plano, Texas bid documents which I will be posting). I really wonder why municipalities use this method for posting their bids. I think everyone, including residents, should be able to download these documents from the municipality’s website.

For convenience, I am posting the RFI here, but if you are bidding, you should sign up as well on the RFP Depot site to get the other bid documents and updates.

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  1. […] I posted the Hartford Request for Information in November 2005 here. In Municipal Wireless/Projects Posted Sunday, October 29, 2006 […]