In July 2019, at the request of Council, staff released a Request for Pre-Qualification (RFPQ) to short-list internet service providers capable of installing broadband infrastructure and facilitating County-wide internet services. Of the four (4) submissions received, three (3) vendors met the requirements outlined in the RFPQ and will progress to the next phase of the selection process.
At the September 23 Council meeting, staff presented Council with a high-level overview of the RFPQ results and received approval to initiate a Negotiated Request for Proposal process (NRFP) with the three successful vendors. Ultimately, negotiations will result in the selection of a successful bidder to install and facilitate internet services throughout all of Haldimand’s communities.
Given the diversity and complexity of the three qualified submissions received during the RFPQ process, the development of the NRFP and subsequent evaluations will be focused on ensuring the best service is obtained at the best value to the County. As such, Council approved obtaining third-party resources to assist staff in facilitating the negotiation process and providing technical expertise with respect to each vendor’s technology proposals & financial capacities. A budget amendment of up to $100,000 was approved and a third party consultant will be brought in to manage the NRFP process from start to finish.
“Council is committed to finding a financially sound, practical solution that makes internet connectivity attainable and sustainable for all,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt. “We’re taking all steps necessary to ensure we find the right provider that is capable of delivering these services in the long-term,” he added.
Hewitt also re-iterated Council’s rationale for pursuing an internet service provider independently, outside of the SWIFT (Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology) initiative. “SWIFT’s proposed timeframe – to install high-speed internet to all of Southwestern Ontario by 2040 – was concerning, and Haldimand was placed at the bottom of the project’s priority list,” he noted. “If the County had partnered with SWIFT, there would have been a cost incurred to the County and its taxpayers with no guarantee of an end product.”
The target date to have an agreement in place has not changed and it is anticipated that an agreement will be presented to Council for approval in January of 2020. Project updates will be posted on the County website and social media accounts as they become available.