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IT'S OFFICIAL!

Broadband connectivity within West Hwy #1 and Goldfinch industrial zones is coming by Summer 2024!

Council Directive:

To source a holistic solution for high speed, reliable broadband connectivity within West Hwy #1 and Goldfinch industrial areas in order to increase economic investment into the County and to expand tax revenues from the industrial sector.

Approved Strategic Broadband Schedule:

Project Overview:

In response to Wheatland County’s request for proposal, Tricon Solutions has been contracted to work with the County for the development and implementation of the Rural Strategic Broadband Plan. The project is prioritizing industry and business with the County’s broadband directives.

Progress Update:

To date, the project has undertaken a review of the historical state and context in terms of previous broadband efforts, initiatives, and partnership associations and has become familiar with the direction, priorities, goals, and growth potential within the County.

To maximize Wheatland County’s budget resources, the project has thoroughly reviewed the Universal Broadband Fund grant guidelines and application that were released by the Canadian Government on November 13th, 2020. The Universal Broadband Fund required residential eligible solutions to be considered for funding. Additionally, the application deadline was very aggressive, with stringent eligibility requirements and the County was unable to meet the timelines provided.

If the County met the residential submission requirements, and to submit an application, the County would not have been able to adequately engage the community, gather requirements, complete due diligence, nor create detailed network designs required. As a result, the County has decided to proceed with their current path to develop a Broadband Strategic Plan in spring of 2021 and consider applying for future grants when they become available.

As part of the project’s analysis, the team has reached out to the broadband vendors within the County to initiate an introduction, and to understand the vendors current and future broadband plans for Wheatland County. Updated asset maps have been formally requested from most vendors for use in assisting the County in compiling a consolidated holistic view of the current broadband infrastructure within the municipality.

To date, the team has had several meetings with the local vendors and has advised them of the expected RFP timeline in order to encourage their participation. In recognition of the RFP guidelines, limited and fair information has been shared with all vendors so that their ability to be awarded the RFP is not jeopardized.

Additionally, the team contacted a number of Alberta municipalities and cities that have addressed or were in the process of addressing their broadband infrastructure needs. This knowledge will help the project understand other approaches, solutions, RFP processes, and lessons learned, which will provide additional context as Wheatland County designs its broadband future. The municipalities contacted include the Town of Canmore, the City of Spruce Grove, the City of Lethbridge, the City of Red Deer, the Town of Olds (O-Net), and the City of Brooks.

As the initiative progressed, the team developed a Broadband Strategic Plan that outlines industry standard high-level broadband options that could be available to the County. The Strategic Plan is non-technical, and the County will be looking to the RFP respondents to provide the technical information, including proposed network designs, costs, and phasing to support their proposed technical solution. The Broadband Strategic Plan will be available on the Wheatland County website shortly.

The RFP process was initiated, and the RFP was posted to the public on the Alberta Purchasing Exchange on June 1st, 2021. On July 27th, the June RFP was cancelled, and the following notice was sent to the applicants:

RE: Wheatland County Broadband RFP

“Following the closing of the above noted procurement, the County has identified shortcomings in its procurement documents. In order to ensure a fair and transparent procurement process where all parties are treated fairly and equally, the County has decided to cancel this procurement and as a result, no contract will be awarded under this procurement.

The County will revise its procurement documents and will issue a new procurement opportunity shortly and it will be posted on APC.

We thank you for your interest in this project.”

On August 24th, the County issued a revised RFP on the Alberta Purchasing Exchange which addressed the identified shortcomings in the procurement documentation. The revised RFP closed on September 27th, 2021.

In order to have received the most responses possible and to encourage vendors to apply, the team contacted vendors that had expressed interest in responding, to advise them that the revised RFP was open and taking responses and to follow the RFP process described in the revised RFP. As part of the County’s RFP process, the team evaluated the revised RFP’s responses.

The revised RFP received a total of six RFP response submissions. Following a review of the submissions, Administration proceeded with round #1 of shortlisting which removed three of the RFP submissions.

After further review of the remaining submissions, the team met with Council in December of 2021 to confirm alignment to proceed in evaluating the remaining responses. The approval was granted, and the team proceeded to conduct interviews with the remaining vendors.

Upon gathering a further understanding of the proposed solutions, the team developed a detailed analysis, including pros and cons in preparation for additional administrative review and round #2, the final round of shortlisting. Following the final shortlisting round, Administration decided to proceed with recommending Shaw’s proposal to Council as the solution to address the West Hwy #1 and Goldfinch industrial park broadband directive.

Shaw will be implementing a fibre network solution to the West Hwy #1 industrial area, Goldfinch industrial area, connect fibre to the home for Cheadle, and construct a connection point within Carseland for future residential services. The solution proposed will provide a reliable and scalable high-speed network, with broadband speeds and capacity capable of supporting industrial growth in the industrial areas. 

To achieve this connectivity, Wheatland County’s portion of the cost will be $2.625M. The build will be complete by summer of 2024. Both the schedule and cost, including assumptions and dependencies, were reviewed in negotiation discussions with Shaw.

The solution proposed will provide a reliable and scalable high-speed network with broadband speeds and capacity capable of supporting industrial growth in the industrial areas. 

To date, administration and the project team has worked with Wheatland County Legal Counsel in negotiations with the Shaw project team, which includes their Account Representative, Network and Engineering Leads, Build and Construction Leads as well as their designated legal team. After very in-depth and intense negotiations, both parties are happy with the final contract outcomes and believe that the results are equally beneficial for all parties involved and are excited to move forward in this new partnership. 

 Community Engagement Survey:

As engaging the community for the Wheatland County broadband initiative is vital to the County’s success, the project has completed in-depth industry research and developed thorough community engagement surveys. The survey consisted of 10-15 questions soliciting information regarding internet use, internet provider information, speed test details, future use and growth, broadband satisfaction, and willingness to choose another service.

Survey statistics; final survey counts (closed on March 2nd, 2021:

  • Business: 24
  • Residential 367

 

Target Zones

FAQs

To source a holistic solution for high speed, reliable broadband connectivity within West Hwy #1 and Goldfinch industrial areas in order to attract economic investment into the County and to expand tax revenues from the industrial sector.

To maximize Wheatland County’s budget resources, the project has thoroughly reviewed the Universal Broadband Fund grant guidelines and application that were released by the Canadian Government on November 13th, 2020. The Universal Broadband Fund required residential eligible solutions to be considered for funding. Additionally, the application deadline was very aggressive with stringent eligibility requirements and the County was unable to meet the timelines provided.

If the County had met the residential submission requirements, and to submit an application, the County would not have been able to adequately engage the community, gather requirements, complete due diligence, nor create detailed network designs required by the submission. As a result, the County decided to proceed with their path to develop a Broadband Strategic Plan and consider applying for future grants when they become available.

The team contacted a number of Alberta municipalities and cities that have addressed or were in the process of addressing their broadband infrastructure needs. This knowledge will help the project understand other approaches, solutions, RFP processes, and lessons learned which will provide additional context as Wheatland County designs its broadband future. The municipalities contacted include the Town of Canmore, the City of Spruce Grove, the City of Lethbridge, the City of Red Deer, the Town of Olds (O-Net), and the City of Brooks.

As part of the Rural Broadband Project, the team developed a Broadband Strategic Plan that outlines industry standard high-level broadband options that could be available to the County. The Strategic Plan is non-technical, and the County looked to the RFP respondents to provide the technical information, including proposed network designs, costs, and phasing to support their proposed technical solutions. The Broadband Strategic Plan will be available on the Wheatland County website shortly.

A total of six RFP response submissions were received.

The RFP detailed evaluation criteria that each proposal was evaluated against. Following a review of the submissions, Administration proceeded with two rounds of shortlisting. Council provided intern step approvals before approval of the final recommended solution.

Shaw will implement a fibre network solution to the West Hwy #1 industrial area, Goldfinch industrial area, connect fibre to the home for Cheadle, and construct a connection point within Carseland for potential future residential services. The solution proposed will provide a reliable and scalable high-speed network, with broadband speeds and capacity capable of supporting industrial growth in the industrial areas. 

To achieve this connectivity, Wheatland County’s portion of the cost will be $2.625M.

The build will be complete by summer of 2024.

Yes. After very in-depth and intense negotiations, both parties are happy with the final contract outcomes and believe that the results are equally beneficial for all parties involved and are excited to move forward in this new partnership. 

For further information and project progress, please refer here as regular updates will be posted as information is available.

If you have any questions, please contact Wheatland County Administration.

As engaging the community for the Wheatland County broadband initiative is vital to the County’s success, the project has completed in-depth industry research and developed thorough community engagement surveys. The survey consisted of 10-15 questions soliciting information regarding internet use, internet provider information, speed test details, future use and growth, broadband satisfaction, and willingness to choose another service.

Survey statistics; final survey counts (closed on March 2nd, 2021):

  • Business: 24
  • Residential: 367

In-depth details are included in the Broadband Strategic Plan, which will be available on the Wheatland County website shortly.

For business customers, contact Shaw at 1-855-505-3025, and for residential customers, contact Shaw at 1-888-472-2222.

Shaw has started the build process and anticipates it being completed by the summer of 2024.

Once the network is completed, services will be available. Please contact Shaw to arrange your service. For business customers, contact Shaw at 1-855-505-3025, and for residential customers, contact Shaw at 1-888-472-2222.

The province of Alberta has announced on their Alberta Broadband Strategy, that 100% of rural residents will have broadband connectivity by the end of fiscal year 2026/2027, with speeds of 50/10.  

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