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SF receives ‘several’ proposals to build a fast citywide internet service for all

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San Francisco is developing a citywide broadband network. (File photo by Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco received “several” proposals by Monday’s deadline to build a citywide internet broadband network connecting all homes and businesses.

Mayor Mark Farrell is working to lead The City toward creating a citywide fiber-to-the-premises internet service at one gigabit speeds. The project would be developed as a private-public partnership with an initial 15-year agreement.

San Francisco issued a request for qualification Jan. 31 to pre-select companies seeking to build the network with the deadline set for this past Monday.

“The City received several bids and we are impressed by the seriousness of the bid teams and their submissions,” Farrell said Thursday. “We look forward to reviewing the bids in detail and moving full-steam ahead with our procurement process.”

SEE RELATED: SF puts out call for private sector to build a citywide internet network

The San Francisco Examiner asked the Mayor’s Office to provide the number of bids received by Monday’s deadline, the names of the companies who bid — it was expected multiple companies would team up to make each bid — and the proposals, but the Mayor’s Office said that they were advised not to disclose that information at this point in the process.

The next key dates in the process are April 9, when The City will select a “shortlist” of bidders to bring them in for interviews, and the selection of qualified bidders on April 30.

Linda Gerull, chief information officer for the Department of Technology, told potential bidders at a pre-conference submission meeting last month that “Mayor Farrell in collaboration with our late Mayor Lee have been champions for this project since 2015.”

“We have a vision through this project to eliminate the digital divide in San Francisco for this generation and future generations,” Gerull said. “Clearly, advances in telemedicine, online jobs, city services show the growing list of economic and quality of life requirements for citywide access to the internet.”

The service is expected to provide a free service to low-income residents as well as free wi-fi services in public places.

“The successful bidder will design, build, finance, operate and maintain a citywide fiber network which will connect every home, business, institution in the city and will be capable of gigabit speeds — and of course being fiber capable of far more than gigabit speeds in the future as the network scales to greater speeds,” Joanne Hovis, president of CTC Technology and Energy, a city consultant on the project, said at last month’s meeting.

The bidders were asked to include in their proposals a financial structure with a combination of public and private financing. A city study in October estimated the project could cost up to $1.9 billion.

The plan includes the expectation that The City would approve a “revenue initiative” to help fund the project and dedicate city staff to it.

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