Residents of Superior looking to have easier, more-economical access to high-speed broadband should be happy; the Connect Superior fiber-optic infrastructure plan advanced through another step in the process.  A company or group will be hired to steer the project through the remaining steps of the way.

The move to advertise for such an entity came with an affirmative vote by the Superior Communications and Information Technology Committee. According to an article in the Superior Telegram [firewall], solicitation will begin for "a request for proposals for project management services for Connect Superior".  Connect Superior is the name given to the umbrella plan being worked on by city officials.

Whoever gets hired has a lot of work (and responsibility) ahead of them.  The description of what the city is looking for is specific about its needs and expectations:

"The firm or group that is ultimately selected will be responsible for infrastructure planning; financial consulting; regulatory and compliance advice; design and engineering review; and construction management.  The minimum requirements for the network would include a fiber optic network  that would provide one gigabit per second upload and download speeds with the ability to go to 10 gps or greater in the future."

The process to find a firm or group to lead the process starts immediately, but organizers don't expect to make make a quick decision.  Jane Darwin, Superior's Contract Analyst, shared that "[w]e'll probably have a little bit longer advertising period than some of our normal projects.  We want to give it some time".

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One benefit to hiring a firm to steer the broadband infrastructure plan to completion is that it wouldn't be dependent on one individual.

Under the Connect Superior high-speed fiber optic infrastructure plan, residents would have instant access to more options, faster speeds, and more-stability in regards to their internet access.  There would be an initial installation and maintenance fee associated with the fiber optic network; maintenance would also fall under the scope or end-users.  Once up and running, any number of high-speed internet providers would be able to compete for business on the city's fiber optic network.

Costs for end-use customers would be greatly diminished from what current market rates are right now.  "According to the city's Broadband Master Plan, developed by Utah-based EntryPoint Networks, those costs could range from $46.73 to $55.05 per month for installation, maintenance, and ISP services".  However, those prices could fluctuate based on "how the network is constructed and how many people participate in the network".

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So far the Connect Superior plan has received widespread support from city residents, leaders, and even the mayor.  A message from Superior Mayor Jim Paine is included on the homepage designed to communicate the plan.  As part of that message, Paine outlines the goals, principles, and objectives of the plan.

Goals for Connect Superior:

  • Lower the cost of internet access by 30% for residents and businesses
  • Significantly increase the speed and reliability of internet access
  • Increase competition and give residents multiple options for ISP's on demand in real time
  • Build a state-of-the-art network that will improve economic development and foster innovation
  • Leverage the network to improve the services provided in the city including public safety, transportation, healthcare, education, emergency communications, and new services that will become possible with advanced network infrastructure

Principles and Objectives involving Connect Superior:

  • Nobody will be forced to participate.  Participation would be on a voluntary, opt-in basis
  • Taxes would not be increased to fund the network
  • The ongoing operation of the network would be self-sustaining and not dependent on any kind of subsidy from the City [of Superior]

The homepage for Connect Superior details the complete plans for the infrastructure network.  There is also a multitude of links and resources available for more review.

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So what lies ahead for Connect Superior?  What's the next step?  City leaders anticipate advertising the request for proposals sometime in January - after the first of the year - "so it won't be overlooked during the rush of the holiday season".

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