Three private companies
responded to a request for
proposal submitted by the Sublette
County Broadband Working Group
earlier this autumn. The report came
from Joanne Hovis, president of CTC
Technology and Engineering, in a
phone conference with the Board of County
Commissioners at their Nov. 20 meeting.
Hovis is consulting with the county on
the complex task of establishing a workable
agreement between private companies and
public entities to provide high-speed broadband
services across the county. The three
private companies who formally responded
to the request for proposal were Visionary
Communications, Silver Star and All-West
All three companies were vetted by a team
at CTC, Hovis said. The companies were
“very viable entities” that offered a “low risk”
to the county. All three had experience working
with rural communities to build communications
infrastructure, she added.
The companies remained vague on committing
to a “solid number” on how much
they planned to invest in the project, Hovis
Broadband Continued from page 1
said. Hovis urged the commissioners to use
this vagueness to negotiate with each company
to find an agreement that will give the
county the best return on its investment.
The fact that three separate companies
responded to the request for proposal with
“strong bids” increased the ability for the
county to negotiate a good deal, she added.
Commissioner Mack Rawhouser raised
the concern that each proposal committed the
county to provide a large amount of funding
to build the initial infrastructure.
“With the county putting up most of the
money and leasing the infrastructure to private
companies, we’re becoming the bank,”
Hovis responded that most rural broadband
projects were only feasible with investment
from a public entity to build the infrastructure.
“The economics of providing rural broadband
are so challenging that it is hard for large
and small private companies to invest in a
project without some kind of public investment,”
CTC is also working on grant applications
on behalf of the county to obtain funding from
the federal Economic Development Administration
and the Wyoming Business Council.
Board chairman Andy Nelson asked Hovis
to advise the commissioners on whether they
should prioritize working on the grant applications
or enter into negotiations with the
companies who responded to the request for
Hovis replied that having an agreement
lined out with private companies to finance
part of the project will make a grant application
much stronger. She urged the commissioners
to pursue each company to get them
to commit to an investment amount that will
provide Sublette County with the “biggest
bang for the buck.” She added that the timeline
for the grants was not “immediate.”
The commissioners agreed to put a hold on
applying for grants and enter into negotations
with the three companies who proposed bids.
Hovis said she can be available to travel to
Sublette County and help with negotiations as
early as December.