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The Napa County Information Technology Services Department is issuing this Request for Proposal (RFP) in order to hire a consultant to assist the County in developing a road map and action plan (to include identifying and applying for grant funding to implement the action plan) to improve broadband service in the County of Napa that benefits county residents, first responders, emergency management personal, local government agencies and businesses. The action plan will be based on all or part of the 2020 Napa County Network Opportunity Infrastructure Assessment: Opportunity Analysis and Recommendation report (Magellan Report), see Attachment D, drafted by Magellan Advisors, which identified 9 opportunities to deploy broadband and/or make the County’s communications infrastructure more resilient.
Access to internet and cell service in rural areas of Napa County continue to be challenging to address. Since 2014, the County has been working to increase service in these areas by working with the North Bay/North Coast Broadband Consortium (NBNCBC) to provide more accurate information to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regarding unserved and underserved areas through real world service, ground-truth testing (to confirm or refute carrier provided information), with the ultimate goal to make more areas eligible for future grant funding and encourage provider expansion. Since 2017, wildfires and Pacific Gas and Electric’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) heightened the need to have access to internet and to cell service so residents and visitors are able to receive critical, emergency information in a timely manner. Because of this new urgency, the Napa County Board of Supervisors directed the Napa County broadband task force to shift their work to not only increase service in unserved/underserved areas, but also work towards making our entire communications network more resilient for future wildfires and PSPSs. In addition, COVID-19 has led to an increased reliance on the internet with more people teleworking, using telemedicine, and adjusting to the demands of distance learning. With all this, there is an even greater need in rural Napa County to deploy broadband and high speed cell service.
Due to State and Federal laws, the County of Napa has very limited authority over telecommunications and where service providers decide to build infrastructure. Service providers, such as, but not limited to, AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, as well as smaller providers, such as, but not limited to Valley Internet and Web Perception, typically build infrastructure in areas that are more populated. State and Federal laws, with limited exceptions, preempt our ability to require telecommunications to build in areas where there is a need. A lot of these areas have terrain that makes it too costly, according to providers, to invest in these rural areas. One of the ways that Napa County could help build the needed infrastructure is by facilitating and seeking grant funding to encourage service providers, especially smaller ones, to build out their networks. The Magellan Advisors' report looks at both increasing service in these areas and the resiliency of the entire network as well as providing recommendations on how to close the digital divide in Napa County. Included in the Assessment is also a list of available funding sources that the County and/or a service provider and/or community groups (e.g. Homeowners Associations) could seek to build infrastructure or make current infrastructure more resilient.