The City plans to construct its own fiber backbone infrastructure (broadband network) to support voice, video, and data transport among the City's public institutions, including schools, libraries, public safety buildings, and other City facilities. The current institutional network, or " I-Net," which was the first network of its kind in Virginia, now connects nearly 90 municipal and educational facilities and is largely leased from Comcast.
An additional goal of the upgrade initiative is to increase consumer choice in cable, voice, and broadband services, which may help lower consumer costs and increase available speeds. The City has received consistent feedback from residential and business consumers regarding the lack of local competition in cable television and broadband Internet services. Although no provider has an exclusive franchise with the City, there is only one cable television franchisee (Comcast) and one landline telephone franchisee (Verizon) in Alexandria, and there are no broadband Internet franchisees.
The City has actively pursued other potential providers, but companies are typically reluctant to make multimillion-dollar capital investments in new fiber networks. One wireless franchise was awarded to EarthLink in 2006, but the company subsequently made the decision not to continue developing wireless franchises nationwide. The City is planning to seek new franchisees who could lease excess capacity on the City's new fiber optic network and provide service to residents and businesses. This would allow all providers to compete fairly, and would incentivize providers to offer consumer services.
A significant cost of building a fiber network is digging and burying conduit. Therefore, the City is taking all reasonable opportunities to lay conduit wherever current digging projects are underway for other purposes such as construction or utility repair. This approach, called "Dig Once," also avoids unnecessary impacts on neighborhoods and businesses due to multiple digging projects.
- 09/27/2016: Alexandria City Council Directs Next Steps to Expand Consumer Broadband Choice
- 07/27/2015: City of Alexandria Solicits Ideas for Municipal and Community Broadband Improvements
In March 2018, the City contracted with consulting and engineering company CTC Technology and Energy to design the City’s municipal fiber network. CTC has significant experience in this area and has completed similar projects for state and local governments in recent years. The engineering design of the fiber network infrastructure has begun with the participation of all stakeholders. The targeted timeframe for completing the design phase is January 2019. After the engineering design is completed, an invitation for bid will be issued for the construction of the municipal network.
- The City is preparing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to build its own fiber backbone infrastructure (broadband network). Vendors or other interested parties may register through eProcure to be notified when an RFP becomes available.
Recent Broadband History
The Alexandria City Council and City staff have worked consistently to encourage consumer broadband choice. Following are key milestones in these efforts in recent years:
- 06/27/2006: Alexandria City Council Receives Proposals for Citywide Wireless Network (Docket Memo)
- 11/29/2006: Alexandria City Council Supports Citywide Wireless Franchise Award (News Release)
- 12/09/2008: Alexandria City Council Authorizes Termination of Franchise Agreement with EarthLink, Inc. (Docket Memo)
- 03/09/2010: City of Alexandria Receives Notice from Verizon of End to New FiOS Deployments (Letter)
- 03/09/2010: Alexandria City Council Authorizes Application for Google Fiber Network (News Release | Docket Memo)
- 10/22/2013: Councilman Justin Wilson Submits Memorandum on Broadband Strategy (Memorandum)
- 04/28/2015: City Staff Presents on Review of Broadband Alternatives (Presentation)
- 09/27/2016: Alexandria City Council Directs Next Steps to Expand Consumer Broadband Choice (News Release | Docket Items)