The recent COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how important universal access to high-speed, reliable broadband and a connected device is for work, education, healthcare, and civic participation. Access to high-quality broadband should no longer be considered a luxury. Essential government services, educational and economic opportunities, business services, telemedicine, public safety, and staying connected with family and friends are all increasingly reliant on broadband networks. While many Nevadans are unable to access the Internet due to lack of connectivity infrastructure, others are unable to access the Internet because they cannot afford it or do not have a computer or laptop. We cannot afford to leave any community, rural or urban, behind as we work to close the digital divide.
The objective of the High Speed Nevada (HSNV) Initiative is universal access to modern broadband infrastructure that provides all Nevadans at their home or business access to an affordable, reliable, and scalable high-speed internet connection. While the federal government has allocated significant funds for broadband, needs in Nevada are also significant due to our geography, rough terrain, the remoteness of our population centers, and the lack of modern broadband infrastructure. The High Speed NV Initiative will combine federal, State, local, and private funding to begin to close the digital divide in Nevada and bring 21st Century infrastructure to every part of the state. The State will use available funds to invest in long-term, life-changing infrastructure assets that will benefit Nevadans in their homes, schools, and places of business for years to come.
Although infrastructure is important, we know that if a family is unable to afford their Internet subscription, or doesn’t have a computer at home, they are just as unconnected as they would be in the most remote parts of our state. Affordability, access to a device, and ensuring digital literacy, collectively known as digital equity, are essential parts of the HSNV. OSIT will work diligently to promote and enroll as many Nevadans as we can in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
The success of the HSNV Initiative will be built on robust local community engagement and input. Over the last six years, OSIT has established Broadband Actions Teams in every county throughout Nevada and, since the start of the pandemic, has engaged with local government and other community leaders in each county to identify and prioritize connectivity needs. OSIT plans to redouble its outreach efforts to create statewide infrastructure and digital equity plans that meet federal BEAD and Digital Equity funding guidelines. All investments will lead to a reliable and affordable Internet connection that will scale to meet Nevadans’ needs for bandwidth now and long into the future.
High Speed Nevada Initiative Phase I
In Phase I of HSNV, OSIT solicited bids from internet service providers to bring fiber based broadband transport services to over 1,000 State and Local Government Facilities, Schools and Libraries, and other community anchor institutions. These 1,000 facilities are located in every county and in nearly every community of the state. OSIT issued RFPs for 10 regions and solicited bids to serve every facility in the region. Regionalizing the bidding process ensures increased competition for services, that rural and remote facilities will not be left behind, and that the State, local governments, and community anchor institutions benefit from bulk pricing. The purpose of leading with government facilities and community anchor institutions in Phase I is to ensure unserved and underserved government and community anchor institutions have the bandwidth and security to effectively provide essential services to constituents and community members while also efficiently using State and federal funding to bring fiber infrastructure to communities where modern, reliable, scalable infrastructure does not exist today. Once fiber is brought to a government or school facility, other federal funding streams will be used to extend connectivity to surrounding areas.
OSIT released the Phase I RFP on September 19th, 2022 and the bidding period closed on December 19th, 2022. Over the course of the bidding period, OSIT held several webinars and an in-person bidder workshop to respond to questions. OSIT also responded to over 100 questions in an FAQ document. When bidding closed, OSIT received bids in every region. OSIT has established a four-step process to evaluate proposals in each region. Step one is an administrative review of the proposals. In this step, proposals are reviewed for completeness and that the requirements of the RFP have been met. Step two is a technical review of the proposals. In this step, a thorough evaluation of the technical details of the application, including financial, engineering, and risk, will be conducted. Step three is a merit/programmatic review of the proposals. In this step, evaluators will conduct a thorough, consistent, and objective examination of proposals based on the criteria established in the RFP. Step four is a final evaluation, reviewing the results of the three previous steps, by OSIT.
Upon completion of the evaluation process for each region, OSIT will issue a Notice of Intent to Award to one bidder in each region and will begin negotiations with that bidder. If negotiations are successful, OSIT will issue a Notice of Award. If negotiations are not successful, OSIT, at its sole discretion, may choose to move to the next highest scoring bidder in the region or not make an award in that region. OSIT intends to move as thoroughly but expeditiously as possible through this process. Winning bidders will be posted on this website.
High Speed NV Initiative Phase II
In Phase II of HSNV, OSIT will work with County Broadband Action Teams to identify unserved residential and business locations. Counties will select a service provider partner(s) in a fair, open, and competitive process. The County-provider partnership together will submit a plan to OSIT for last-mile funding. OSIT will not award funding directly to an individual provider. County-provider partnerships will be the only eligible applicants for BEAD and other last-mile funding. More information on Phase II can be found in this presentation. Providers interested in learning about funding opportunities should complete OSIT’s Broadband Service Provider Questionnaire. Completion of the questionnaire will add the provider to OSIT’s mailing listserv for additional information and updates.
Please direct all inquiries to HighspeedNV@gov.nv.gov