In June 2019, Haldimand County Council finalized its corporate priorities for the 2018-2022 term. One of the key priorities identified was an initiative to bring high speed internet access to underserviced areas of the County. Since then, staff have been working through complex legal, technical and financial processes to procure a vendor capable of delivering this service. On June 30, KWIC Internet was announced as the successful proponent.
In order to select the most qualified internet service provider, Council approved a 2-step competitive bid process including: (1) the pre-qualification of interested providers and (2) the issuance of Negotiated Request for Proposal (NRFP). With assistance from a third-party consultant, proposals were rated on a pre-determined scale evaluating various technical and financial components.
Of the three proponents, the submission from 676766 Ontario Limited (o/a KWIC Internet) was the highest scoring and advanced to the negotiations procurement stage.
KWIC Internet’s proposal meet all minimum technical and financial requirements outlined in the original NRFP and aligns with feedback obtained from public consultation, including:
- The ability to provide required minimum download/upload speeds of 50/10 Mbps (in line with minimum speeds identified by the CRTC)
- The ability to provide unlimited broadband internet service to 100% of the County’s underserviced areas (customers currently without access to unlimited internet with download/upload speeds of minimum 50/10 Mbps). Priority service is being granted to these underserviced areas first;
- Specific construction timelines ensuring the complete network is built and operational within 5 years from execution of the Project Agreement;
- Regular progress reporting and testing/monitoring of quality of service and customer satisfaction during construction;
- Competitive pricing – KWIC Internet’s Proposal met or was lower than the established target price point of $115 per month as required by the NRFP;
- Financial assistance in the form of an interest free loan amount set at $15,000,000 with the full principal balance of the loan to be repaid within 12 years from the execution of the Project Agreement;
- Alignment with the County’s financial principles and the ability to demonstrate financial security to protect/ensure repayment of the County’s loan.
It is important to note that the provision of telecommunication systems – which includes internet services – are eligible for the above-noted financial incentives under the Municipal Act. As required under the Act, a Municipal Capital Facilities by-law was passed by Council authorizing the County to provide financial assistance to KWIC for the purpose of delivering broadband internet services.
“Staff, in conjunction with feedback from legal, technical and financial consultants, are confident that KWIC Internet is well-aligned to provide internet access to all underserviced areas of the County,” said Mark Merritt, General Manager of Financial and Data Services. Merritt noted that with Council’s approval, staff now have an agreement in principle and will work to finalize and execute the Project Agreement with KWIC Internet.
“This is incredibly positive news that has been long-awaited by many. Bringing high speed internet to rural communities will help bridge the ‘digital divide’ and have long-lasting impacts for residents, businesses and potential economic development across Haldimand,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt. “I look forward to the construction stage and seeing this critically important project come to fruition,” he added.
More information will be shared with the community as the project moves forward. All project-related information is available at HaldimandCounty.ca/broadband/.