Fresno issues RFP for municipal wireless network

Fresno, California (pop. 480,000; 112 square miles) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the creation of a Wi-Fi or WiMAX network that will cover the entire city. The municipality will spend no public funds on the network. The winner of the bid must bear all of the costs. The deadline for responses to the RFP is 28 August 2008. Download the Fresno municipal wireless RFP.

Here are a few details about the network’s business model:

  • privately owned WiFi or Wi-MAX network built at no cost to the city, but the city will consider anchor tenant proposals;
  • network to be used for some municipal applications
  • support for public safety use in the 4.9 GHz frequency
  • network owner must sell wholesale access to other service providers
  • the network owner must offer free access although it can charge for residential and business uses as well as premium point-to-point and point-to-multipoint services.
  • open network requirement, no filtering
  • 95% indoor penetration

There are several problems with the requirements of this RFP. Without the city’s financial commitment, it will be difficult for the network operator to make money immediately to cover the cost of investment. What perplexes me is that the city wants to use it for municipal purposes, especially public safety in the 4.9 GHz, yet it does not want to pay. The city can get public safety funds from Homeland Security and other sources to help pay for this network. In the past year, we’ve seen EarthLink and MetroFi give up on this business model. I doubt that another company will attempt the same. In addition, the wholesale requirement makes it difficult for a WiMAX operator such as Clearwire to come in and build the network. Of course, everything is negotiable in the end.

To submit a bid, you must register with the city:

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  1. Clovis now wants to piggy back on Fresno’s RFP for citywide Wifi:

    Check for more updates on this including an interview on today’s podcast with Jon Lawrence of Fresno-based Launch WIFI.

  2. Sorry, here’s the link as a tinyurl:

  3. I would do a project like this but I would make my proposal more lucrative to the city. Projects like these need to be done, Clearwire and Earthlink are not the examples we should be looking at. They failed but atleast they tried. You have to use more than the municipality as the anchor client and I look forward too hearing from the City of Fresno’s porchasing agent to share our model of success.