Anacortes, Wash., Shoots Down Sole Fiber Network Bid

After the only bid to extend fiber-optic installations in three neighborhoods came in at more than double city estimates, officials opted not to proceed. Criteria for the project could be adjusted to attract more bids.

by Jacqueline Allison, Skagit Valley Herald / January 9, 2020

(TNS) — The Anacortes City Council voted unanimously Monday night to reject the sole bid the city had received for fiber optic installation in three pilot neighborhoods, which means another delay in the city’s municipal fiber broadband project.

The bid from OFS Fitel Services International exceeded the city’s projected costs for fiber installation, council member Ryan Walters said Monday.

City Administrative Services Director Emily Schuh said the bid was $458,507 for 300 customer installations, which comes out to about $1,538 per installation. That’s more than twice what the city had projected, she said.

The city has struggled to find a contractor to install both the fiber optic drop cable to the customer site and the indoor fiber equipment.

Schuh said the city has three options: put the project out to bid again through the state’s competitive bidding process, solicit separate bids for the outdoor and indoor installations, or have city staff complete fiber installations.

Walters said the city should adjust the criteria for proposals in order to solicit more bids and bids at lower prices.

The city has budgeted $3.1 million over two years to start the network in the three pilot areas. The plan is that as more customers sign up, the network will start to pay for itself.

“We do need to move quickly,” Walters said. “We need to get installations done and revenue coming in.”

The city will charge customers a one-time $100 fee for fiber installation, and a monthly fee. Residential rates are set at $69 a month for 1 gigabit-per-second service and $39 a month for 100-megabit-per-second service. Business rates are $149 for 1 gbps and $89 for 100 mbps.

As of late December, 155 customers in the three pilot areas had signed up for fiber Internet, city staff said previously. Fiber orders citywide totaled 704.

©2020 the Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.)Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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