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Bloomington Fiber Initiative and AXIA FAQ

Since the City's announcement of its intent to partner with Axia to deploy Gigabit class fiber internet services, we have received many questions from City residents. Here's a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page to help answer questions we are receiving about this important initiative.

Q: What are the City's Goals?

A: Overall the City is working to make Gigabit class fiber internet service available to every residence and business in Bloomington. Our future economy, healthcare, education, and quality of life will be affected by the quality of our digital infrastructure. Specific goals include:

Q: What is an RFI?

A: RFI stands for Request for Information. An RFI is a business process undertaken to collect written information about the capabilities of potential partners to achieve a goal. On 4/01/16 the City published an RFI requesting information from potential partners that might have an interest in helping the City achieve its next-generation network goals (see previous question). The City received 12 RFI responses.

Q: What is a gigabit and why is it important?

A: The City's goal is to secure a gigabit class network for all of Bloomington. A gigabit is one billion units of data. A Gigabit network is capable of transferring data at a rate of at least one gigabit per second (1 Gbps). Standard dial-up modem connections operated at 56kbps. The US Government classifies broadband internet at least 25Mbps. A gigabit is 40 times the standard for broadband, a significant improvement in speed for videos, audio and photos, as well as emerging like virtual reality, 360 video, 4k Video, etc.

But a Gigabit isn't the end goal. 10Gig and higher networks are beginning to be deployed. We are seeking a network that is capable of scaling beyond a Gig as new technology and applications grow.

Q: What is the proposed pricing of the gigabit internet service for residences and businesses?

A: While firm pricing has yet to be determined, we anticipate that Gigabit speed symmetrical (upload and download) service will be comparable in price to other communities with Gigabit service. Residential service will be in the range of $70-$90/month while business services will be in the $300/month range. This includes unlimited data usage, symmetrical speeds and simple billing with no additional fees.

Q: What steps are involved?

A: The main steps to date are:

Past

Current and Future

Q: What is happening now (12/29/16)?

A: Axia engineers and subcontractors are on the ground conducting initial engineering and cost estimates right now.

Q: If the Axia agreement moves forward how long will it take to get Gigabit fiber service?

A: The goal is to provide complete coverage of the City within two years. Many areas of the community will have service available in 2017 with continuing connections from there.

Q: Why is the City buying/building a network?

A: The City is not itself purchasing or building a network. The City is essentially recruiting a new high-tech company to invest in Bloomington and locate operations here. The City has sought to ensure everyone has access to gigabit fiber by recruiting a company to invest its own capital in this necessary infrastructure. High speed fiber connectivity will provide members of our community with more options for internet and other content provided over the fiber network.

Q: Why isn't the city partnering with company X, Y or Z?

A: We are grateful for the participation of many local and national providers in our RFI process. We evaluated a dozen potential partners including all local residential providers. Axia met more of the City's objectives including full City coverage, open network model, sustainable business model, rapid time to completion, and sufficient capital to fund the project.

We are pleased that other providers are interested in the Bloomington market and are accelerating their activities. Greater competition over improved infrastructure benefits us all.

Q: What do you mean by "open network"?

A: Most Internet service providers build networks that only they use to provide internet access. In an open network model, the operator allows other organizations to provide services to customers on the network, not just themselves.

Q: What will the cost be to the City?

A: The City is not funding the Axia fiber build out, so the cost to the City is negligible. We still have the day-to-day work of coordination and evaluating permits related to the building of the network. One potential area of City investment is to address the digital divide in our community. See Question below.

Q: What is the jobs impact?

A: Axia is likely to create at least a dozen permanent new jobs in the community for its Bloomington operation, not including many more temporary jobs created during the construction and build out of the fiber network.

Q: How will you address the digital divide?

A: The City is very concerned about the gap in access to internet connectivity for those unable to afford internet access. We are working to ensure that as many people as possible in the community can benefit from this investment. We are considering what options, including City capital investments, would make sense to help everyone in our community with access to high speed internet.

Q: What if Axia doesn't work out?

A: It's possibly that Axia might not be the right partner for the City due to buildout costs or other factors. We are in an engineering and evaluation phase right now to assess this.

The City considers its fiber RFI process to be ongoing. We are maintaining lines of communications with other prospects and will continue to work toward the City's goals with other parties if we are unable to move forward with Axia.