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Gov’t issues RFP seeking proponents to deploy public wi-fi hotspots

The Office of Management and Budget (OGP, in Spanish) has released through its Broadband Program a request for proposals (RFP) seeking qualified entities to deploy and operate public Wi-Fi hotspots across Puerto Rico.

The program has a $50 million budget allocated to offer free Wi-Fi in all common citizen service areas, along with public spaces like libraries, community centers, public squares and public beaches.

Through the RFP, internet providers in Puerto Rico will be able to participate in the island-wide internet deployment, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said during his message at the start of the Smart Island Summit, which took place at the Puerto Rico Convention Center and gathered representatives from the public and private sectors to discuss the island’s path toward connectivity.

The public Wi-Fi phase will include 190 locations in 46 municipalities, which will be identified on a georeferenced map to be easily found, Pierluisi said.

“Its implementation should begin at the end of this year and once it starts, we will proceed to the second phase, which will include the places in the rest of the island’s towns. This program will provide our people with spaces throughout Puerto Rico where they will have free internet access,” Pierluisi said.

The RFP tells would-be proponents that the grant program will cover the costs of Wi-Fi zones, including Wi-Fi equipment and supporting infrastructure, as well as the costs of additional underlying supporting infrastructure for fixed and mobile broadband wireless service. However, the grant program will not cover the expenses for the fixed or mobile wireless hardware itself or its installation.

The minimum work a provider will be paid to do is one municipality, the RFP indicates.

While the funding will cover the construction and rehabilitation of structures, such as towers and smart poles, it will not cover costs related to so-called “last mile” fixed wireless access, which historically has been identified as the costliest aspect of delivering broadband to hard-to-reach locations.

However, those costs can be covered under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Uniendo a Puerto Rico program.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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