Scranton, Pa., Issues RFQ for Internet Service Build-Out

Scranton, Pa., Issues RFQ for Internet Service Build-Out

(TNS) — Scranton wants to make sure all homes and businesses have access to high-speed broadband Internet.

The city issued a request for qualifications Friday seeking vendors to provide a fiber-optic network and broadband Internet service “with best-in-class offerings,” including upload and download speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second.

The goal is for service to be available to 100% of homes and businesses in Scranton within two years of a potential contract, Business Administrator Eileen Cipriani said.

“Paramount among the goals was ubiquitous service for the entire city,” she said.

Wilkes-Barre-based Loop Internet and Empire Access, of Prattsburgh, New York, both announced high-speed Internet projects in Scranton within the past year. The city’s RFQ should increase competition in the interest of more access for residents and commercial, health care and other entities, Cipriani said.

Other goals listed in the RFQ include minimizing costs to residential and commercial users, using underground facilities to the extent possible and “using an installation, operation and maintenance methodology that maximizes dependability and resiliency.”

It asks vendors to affirm they’ll provide a low-cost program to low-income households and participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounts to eligible households to help ensure broadband access for work, school and more.

Council President Bill King, a former Scranton School District superintendent, said expanding broadband access to all citizens would put Scranton on the cutting edge. The district distributed Chromebook computers to all students during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some students still struggled with Internet access.

The broadband project would help ensure “equity across the board so all students have access, and anytime we can do that I think we’re moving in the right direction,” King said.

Scranton also wants vendors to provide 12 fiber strands for municipal use and connectivity to various city parks and facilities, including City Hall and Scranton fire, police and Department of Public Works headquarters.

The city prefers proposals that don’t come at a cost to Scranton, but has the ability to make available federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, waive permit fees and consider other steps to facilitate construction of the network, the RFQ notes.

Proposals are due Nov. 6.

©2023 The Times-Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.