Alexandria, Va. Refreshes Municipal Fiber Network Quest

The City of Alexandria is taking another stab at inviting construction companies to build out its planned city-wide fiber network. 

  • Alexandria, Va.

Alexandria, Va.--The City of Alexandria last week issued an invitation to bid (ITB) for the construction of a City-owned fiber network to support broadband services among the City's public institutions. It has worked with stakeholders and industry experts to design a network that will address connectivity needs for City government buildings, public schools, libraries, public safety communications and the City's Smart Mobility transportation initiatives.

Vendors interested in responding to the ITB and other interested parties may find more information and register to bid online by January 29, 2021, at 3 p.m.; the bid number is 938.

In addition to improving connectivity and data transmission speed between City government and Alexandria City Public Schools facilities and sites, the municipal fiber project will create potential partnership opportunities to possibly expand consumer choice and increase available speeds for broadband services available in Alexandria. 

After the city released an initial Invitation to Bid (ITB) the City’s Municipal Fiber Network in November 2019, it cancelled the bid in March because the bids were more expensive than what the city could pay.

The ITB was revamped and posted again on Nov. 30. In the new ITB, the city extended the timeline to build from two year to four years.

"With the construction of the new fiber optic network, the City is planning to seek new partners who could lease excess conduit space to provide broadband service to residents and businesses,” said a post on the City's Municipal Broadband website. “This would allow all providers to compete fairly and would encourage providers to offer consumer services."

Given the cost and interruption of underground network construction, the post added that the City will look at ways to install fiber conduit in tandem with other upgrades taking place.”

"Because digging and burying conduit is a significant cost of building a fiber network, the City is taking all reasonable opportunities to lay conduit wherever current digging projects are already underway and align with the municipal fiber construction,” the post said. “This approach strives to avoid unnecessary impacts on neighborhoods and businesses."

This is not the first time Alexandria has attempted to develop a municipal fiber plan.

In July 2015, The City issued a formal solicitation to seek information from industry professionals on the feasibility of constructing its own fiber network.

The new fiber infrastructure will replace the current institutional network, or "I-Net," which was the first governmental, fiber-based network of its kind in Virginia. The I-Net now connects nearly 90 municipal and educational facilities and is largely leased from Comcast.

For over a decade, the city has made attempts to work with private providers. In 2009, the city talked to Verizon about building out Fios. After Verizon decided to halt new Fios deployments, Alexandria had to look for other options.

Alexandria, Va. issues new invitation to bid on its city fiber network.

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