Interested in building #broadbandforeveryone?
In May 2017, SWIFT launched a two-stage Request for Pre-Qualification (RFPQ). Through this process, 28 service providers were pre-qualified. The final list was released in July 2017. SWIFT is now working on finalizing the details for the Request for Proposal (RFP) which will be circulated within the coming months. In order to participate in the RFP, interested respondents must have been pre-qualified through the RFPQ process. Any additional providers wanting to participate in the RFP will need to work with one of the pre-qualified service providers.
Stage one of the RFPQ process required respondents to share information about the exact location of their existing infrastructure and known service gaps. They were also required to provide details pertaining to their business structure and financial capabilities. The RFPQ began the process of establishing critical network standards and eligibility criteria for building the SWIFT network. The location and amount of fibre-optic infrastructure built in each community will be determined by the final overall design of the project, as informed by the RFPQ process.
SWIFT is using a multi-stage process to ensure the goals of the project are achieved within our projected timeline. We are sharing as much information as possible to support interested bidders in participating in the project as well as to keep our stakeholders and the general public informed about progress on the project. Once complete, the RFP(s) will be posted on Bonfire and Biddingo. All information will also be cross-posted and shared through our website and mailing list.
When did the procurement process start?
The network will be competitively bid and designed through a multi-stage RFPQ/RFP process.
The RFPQ process contains two stages and is being used to establish a list of pre-qualified repondents to submit proposal(s) in response to subsequent RFP(s) for the network construction.
The RFPQ process launched on May 12, 2017.
What is the anticipated timeline for the RFPQ/RFP process?
The network will be competitively bid and designed through a multi-stage RFPQ/RFP process. The timeline for the various stages of the procurement process are anticipated to be as follows (please note these dates are based on best estimates and are subject to change):
- RFPQ Stage 1 Release: May 12, 2017
- RFPQ Stage 1 Closing: June 30, 2017
- RFPQ Stage 2 Release for Shortlist: July 11, 2017
- RFPQ Stage 2 Closing: August 10, 2017
- RFP Phase Start: January 3, 2018
Is the RFPQ/RFP process conducted only for Internet Service Providers (“ISP”)?
No. Facilities and non-facilities based providers within and outside of the SWIFT operating territory and other parties with an interest in building, owning and operating fibre optic network facilities within the SWIFT operating territory are eligible to respond to RFPQ Stage 1.
Who performs the contracting of the fibre deployment? Will they be chosen by the ISP?
SWIFT will contract the fibre deployment. Any Subcontractors of Respondents/Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) will be chosen by the Respondent/TSP.
Is there a formal RFP process for the contractor as well?
Any TSPs responding to the RFP are responsible for their own procurement processes.
Why an RFPQ? Do we have to participate in this stage of the process?
We’re using a multi-stafe RFPQ process for a few reasons:
- to determine the exact location of their existing infrastructure and known service gaps
- to gain a stronger understanding of service providers current business structures sand financial plans
- establish critical network standards and eligibility criteria for building the SWIFT network
The location and amount of fibre-optic infrastructure built in each community will be determined by the final overall design of the project, as informed by the RFPQ process. The final proposed project design will be released through RFP in late 2017 and confirmed when Telecom Service Providers are selected to build out the project.
In order to participate in the RFP, Telecom Service Providers must participate and be pre-qualified through the RFPQ process.
SWIFT is using this multi-stage process to ensure the goals of the project are achieved within our projected timeline. Because responding to the RFPQ will require a significant amount information sharing, time and effort, it is important that interested Telecom Service Providers begin preparing to respond well in advance of the anticipated May 12, 2017 release of the RFPQ.
Where will the RFPQ/RFP be posted?
How much funding will be available to contractors?
We anticipate that up to $200 million will be available to contractors as part of the contract awarding process. The RFP process will have two stages, including a pre-qualification stage. Funding will not be directed until pre-qualification stage has been completed.
We will keep everyone updated throughout the process as we work towards building broadband for everyone.
When does construction start?
We anticipate the earliest construction to begin Spring 2019. There will likely be multiple RFPQ and construction phases during the first five years of the project and into the long-term development of the network.
We applied for Connect to Innovate funding - does that affect our ability to participate in SWIFT?
Applying for and receiving CTI funding or other broadband funding supports will not jeopardize your community’s ability to participate in the SWIFT initiative.
CTI funding allows “stacking” – or combining multiple streams of funding toward the same initiative – but SWIFT’s SCF funding does not allow stacking. Because SWIFT is funded based on a public-private partnership structure, with one third funding coming from each the federal government, provincial government, and the private sector, SWIFT as an organization cannot use any other federal programs to stack dollars on infrastructure investments in communities already covered through the SCF funding we have already received for project, and cannot ‘top-up’ projects that have been partially funded by CTI.
However, it is important that service providers continue with their planned investments in infrastructure and leverage every existing avenue of funding to connect our communities – and SWIFT can leverage CTI funding and other funding programs to support infrastructure investments in communities not covered by SCF funding.
Through Phase I of the project, SWIFT will leverage SCF funding, municipal contributions, and private sector investments to build approximately $300 million in fibre-optic infrastructure. We estimate that the total, long-term cost of connecting everyone in the region will cost approximately $4 billion. To accelerate the process of building #broadbandforeveryone, we are strongly encouraging our member communities and service providers within our region to apply for CTI funding and to align any planned investments with SWIFT’s long-term plan.
NOTE: Any fibre-optic asset built after July 11, 2016 that is not covered by CTI funding or any other federal funding program may be considered an eligible cost toward SWIFT if it is included in submissions to SWIFT’s RFPQ/RFP procurement process.
What happens after Phase 1 of the project?
It’s a big deal that SWIFT is undertaking this project regionally and to address backbone, middle-mile, and last mile challenges as part of the same network design. SWIFT’s model means our region is not just going to receive faster Internet, but better Internet. No one else can deliver services with these kinds of guarantees, because no one else will have this kind of coverage. SWIFT’s principles mean that every community will benefit from faster, more reliable, more affordable, and completely future-proofed infrastructure.
After Phase 1 is complete and the network is operational SWIFT will collect a small residual from the successful Telecom Service Providers. The residuals will be added to the Broadband Development Fund (BDF) along with sponsorship funds, more upper level government funding and membership fees. Periodically the board will use the BDF to continue to build out more infrastructure until #broadbandforeveryone becomes a reality. The more organizations using SWIFT infrastructure, the greater the BDF will be – every SWIFT network user will effectively result in increased contributions to the BDF, which means future investments will be self-sustaining and accelerate broadband connections across the entire region.
Will SWIFT be funding last-mile connections?
Out of the $281 million estimated for the initial construction of SWIFT, $60 – 70 million was estimated for last-mile connections. The amount available for last mile will not be known until the RFP process is complete. Over 2700km of new fibre is estimated to be built in the first phase of the project. Out of a typical 96-strand count fibre cable, 94 strands will be available to provide last-mile connections to individual homes and businesses.
Connecting everyone in Southwestern Ontario requires overcoming an infrastructure deficit of approximately $4-7 billion (depending on geography and benchmarks). Without the SWIFT model in place, there is no mechanism for addressing this gap fairly and equitably. SWIFT will continue to subsidize telecom service providers until everyone in Southwestern Ontario is connected by fibre optics.
SWIFT will be built, owned, and maintained by service providers...
Telecom service providers will participate through an open procurement process and they will build, own, and operate the network. Infrastructure Canada requires the municipal members of SWIFT to maintain 51% ownership of the assets of the network for the first 7 years of its operations (starting in 2020). After 7 years of ownership, Infrastructure Canada grants the recipient of funding (SWIFT) the choice to divest some-or-all of their equity stake to the service providers that built the infrastructure.
SWIFT will be an open-access network, where all service providers compete to deliver services to consumers. As a buying group, SWIFT will ensure greater competition between telecom service providers. More competition gives consumers more choices, which leads to better services and lower prices, as documented by the CRTC and Industry Canada, as well as demonstrated by numerous models from across Canada and around the world as reported in the SWIFT Feasibility Study. Open access is a requirement of the federal government funding program.
Who can I contact to find out more information?
For more information or to speak with our team, please contact:
- Geoff Hogan, Executive Director
- Melissa O’Brien, Communications Manager.
- Adriana Dekker, Stakeholder Relations
- Deb Fawcett, Executive Assistant/Office Manager
You can reach any of our team members by calling 519.914.1308 and following the prompts for the person you’d like to speak with.