Frisco wants better internet for the sake of students, workers and visitors
The town of Frisco wants to improve its internet access, and it is seeking proposals on how to best get that done.
The town is a hoping to improve its internet access for the sake of its residents, businesses and emergency services. The town sent out a request for proposals for broadband strategic plans Sept. 2 with a submittal deadline of Oct. 14. Frisco Town Council may award a bid Nov. 8.
Frisco currently relies on DSL and cable connections for its internet access, town communications director and project manager Vanessa Agee said. As a result, download and upload speeds are “not that great.” The proposal outlines goals of increasing speeds and adding redundancy to Frisco’s internet service.
“Internet access is foundational to quality of life,” Agee said. Kids need it to finish school assignments, parents need it for work and many simply need it to stream their favorite TV show. Agee identified three reasons to improve Frisco’s internet access: personal, emergency and commerce.
When internet goes down in Frisco — as has happened several times in the last few months — companies lose the ability to get work done and some even lose the ability to run credit cards.
“It can be infuriating,” Elizabeth Skrzypczak-Adrian, Town Council member and owner of Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters, said. Internet access is integral when so many shoppers rely on credit cards or Apple Pay, two services that are lost when internet goes down. With so many travelers coming through the area reliant on Google Maps or online searches to navigate Frisco, internet access is important to travelers, too, she said.
“It just slows everything down,” Skrzypczak-Adrian said about internet outages in Frisco.
The plan would also look at impacts on emergency services, which need reliable broadband and cell service to send important, time-sensitive messages, Agee said.
In February 2020, Town Council passed a “dig once” ordinance, allowing the town to install fiber infrastructure whenever excavation is being done for local, state or private projects such as road work along Colorado Highway 9. That has allowed the town to preemptively place conduits under ground in which fiber-optic cables can be installed. With that groundwork laid, Agee said it’s time for the town to take the next step.
The broadband strategic plan, which is expected to take four to six months to complete according to the town’s news release, will help the town plot its course. Agee said the plan will figure out what foundations the town already has in place, what more needs built and how Frisco achieves robust fiber connections in an affordable manner. The plan will seek to determine whether a public, public-private or exclusively private model is best for the town.
In addition to a public process with stakeholder interviews and one public meeting or survey to assess broadband needs and cost sensitivity, the plan would inventory and map Frisco’s current broadband infrastructure as well as outline the impact of broadband availability on the community and suggested budget allotments. Additionally, it will analyze various scenarios with associated costs, like whether to go in a privately or publicly operated direction, and look at the costs of providing more widely available free, public Wi-Fi.
The project plan will also look at ways Frisco can loop its work into northwest Colorado’s THOR Project, a large scale effort to improve internet access in rural communities.
Questions regarding the request for proposals are due by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, and responses to questions will be provided by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, at FriscoRFP.com.
A virtual meeting for interested parties will be held at 1 p.m Tuesday, Sept. 13. Attendance is not required to submit a proposal. A link to the meeting is contained in the proposal’s description at FriscoGov.com.
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