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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Latest on Municipal Broadband in American Fork

The letter of intent has expired, the original RFP will be reissued . . . I don't recall anyone promising a complete broadband solution in American Fork would be easy or immediate. It's not bad news. It's just news.

I meant to report the latest small chapter in American Fork's municipal broadband saga a few weeks ago. I gathered a few details, but never got around to it until tonight. Better late than never, they say. In this case, it may be better later than earlier, too, because there's more to report.

Last fall American Fork City entered into a letter of intent with PacketFront (or HomePort, its financial arm). Among the interests responding to a Request for Proposals (RFP), PacketFront was preferred, and for good reason. However, on February 15, 2007, that letter of intent expired without progress toward a contract. Reportedly, HomePort was unable to obtain the expected financing.

This is not a disaster, but it does mean the City will be keeping the system a while longer.

Tonight the City Council voted to reissue the original RFP, requesting proposals for purchase of the (almost) citywide network and significant fiber-optic assets between downtown Salt Lake City and Spanish Fork. PacketFront/HomePort is expected to come back with a revised proposal, with terms different enough from the proposal the City accepted that they could not legally be negotiated from the original proposal. Presumably, there will be other offers, too, including one from another very attractive suitor, which responded to the original RFP slightly after the deadline, with unfortunate results.

The deadline for proposals is April 5, 2007, at 3:00 p.m.

The best news of the evening is that the City still insists that a buyer preserve the functionality and affordability of the citywide system. This is the central issue, particularly in the interest of preserving municipal broadband's economic benefits.

Note: Among my numerous previous posts on this subject, you may wish to consider this one, which discusses proposals in response to the original RFP, as well as things the City could do to improve the system before a sale is final and in case a deal falls through; and this one, which considers the economic impact of municipal broadband.

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