MONONGALIA COUNTY, WV – The Monongalia County Commission has issued a request for proposal (RFP) inviting internet service providers (ISPs) to submit plans and ideas for strategic broadband network engineering and deployment partnerships to improve broadband access for education, job creation, healthcare, and other uses in the County. It is the Commission’s intent through the RFP for a third party to expand fiber broadband infrastructure to benefit county residents, businesses, community institutions, government, and overall economic development.
The RFP was approved by the Monongalia County Commissioners for release on October 11, 2023, at the County Commissioners Meeting. Proposals are due December 6, 2023, with an award tentatively scheduled to be made by January 19, 2024.
The RFP represents a critical next step in a process that began in May 2021 and included a survey of more than 2,000 residents along with engineering and other recommendations in a comprehensive broadband strategic plan completed in 2022. That 168-page plan advised the creation of a middle-mile fiber backbone network funded by federal and state funds now available through such measures as the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in 2021.
“Now is the time to get ISPs engaged and see who is willing and able to come and work with Monongalia County to provide the fiber-based, high-speed internet service our residents and businesses and institutions need and deserve and say they want,” said Sean Sikora, the Monongalia County Commissioner who has directed the committee leading the effort.
The RFP is intended to open the door for ISPs to both speed up the process of creating high-speed internet service where options are lacking and for county leaders to learn about new solutions those providers can bring to the table. The RFP does not set out a specific timeline for network construction and may result in the county partnering with more than one provider.
“We’ve been very deliberate through this whole process. We’ve done our due diligence to create a strategic plan that is now ready for the execution phase,” Sikora said. “That phase begins with the RFP. We’re ready now to learn what opportunities are there to provide future-ready internet service to Monongalia County.”
The strategic plan was created in partnership with Lit Communities, an Alabama-based provider of broadband network consulting and construction services, and with Ice Miller Whiteboard and DLZ.
“The work done over the past couple years by Sean Sikora and his committee has gotten us to this point,” said Chris Miller, Ice Miller Partner. “They’ve been doing the right thing with taxpayer money and will continue to do so as they explore potential partnerships with ISP providers in the next step of a project that has already attracted an unusually high level of attention from a range of stakeholders in the Morgantown community and beyond.”