Gov’t issues RFP for buried conduit and fiber optic network project
The Puerto Rico Broadband Program, overseen by the Office of Management and Budget, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit pitches from companies that can assist with the design and engineering of a buried conduit and fiber optic network that will interconnect the island’s 78 municipalities, as well as up to three planned and one existing subsea landing station.
“Through the funds available for the Broadband program, we continue to develop efforts aimed at guaranteeing that all Puerto Ricans have access to high-speed internet connections, as well as improving Puerto Rico’s broadband infrastructure,” stated Enrique Völckers-Nin, executive director of the Smart Island program.
This is a professional services contract, and as such, it does not have an assigned budget, which “will greatly depend on the proposals received by the agency,” explained Völckers. “However, the budget for the fiber optic conduit and underground project is $324 million between federal funds and local funds,” he said.
“Our Smart Island program has made great progress, and with this historic investment in broadband infrastructure and the digital inclusion efforts that we continue to develop, Puerto Rico will be better positioned to thrive in the digital world and fully participate in modern society,” he added.
The project will proceed in three phases: planning, design and engineering. In the planning phase, the selected company will assess the island’s broadband infrastructure through methods such as interviews with service providers and other stakeholders, field visits and documentation review.
The company will also strategically design a resilient and robust broadband network for the island.
It will work with the government to identify primary anchor sites for the conduit system and a highway-based path to facilitate the fiber optic cabling.
The selected company will be responsible for route verification and adjustments to avoid obstacles and obstructions. The main goal of this phase is to provide a complete design from conception to a low-level design ready for construction, according to the RFP.
During the design phase, the company will be tasked with designing a strategic blueprint for deploying the buried fiber route for the Smart Island Broadband Network. The primary goal is to establish reinforced pathways that extend to communities and areas that lack broadband access. The secondary objective is implementing an open access fiber network.
The network will seek to provide a minimum of 1 gigabyte symmetrical connectivity service to public schools, public or multi-family housing, libraries, medical or health care providers, community colleges or other institutions of higher education, and any other governmental or nongovernmental nonprofit community support organization where a need for connection is identified.
Additionally, the network aims to stimulate economic development, foster connectivity, strengthen infrastructure, provide business services at competitive prices, expand fiber reach to underserved areas, increase competition, and offer resilient options for service providers, government agencies and other organizations, Völckers said.
After completing and approving the first two phases, the selected proponent will generate detailed documentation for operation, identifying obstructions, potential problems and construction details required for government and local permits, among other responsibilities.
Proposals are due by Jan. 5.