Friday, March 22, 2013

City connects with Internet consultant

Ketchum OKs $24.5K contract for broadband plan help


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

    Ketchum has hired an information technology consulting firm to help its recently formed Broadband Strategic Planning Committee develop a plan for the future of the city’s Internet infrastructure.
    At a meeting Monday, the City Council voted 3-0 to approve a $24,500 contract with Miami-based Magellan Advisors. Councilman Baird Gourlay was absent.
    In July, the council appropriated $20,000 to develop a Broadband Strategic Plan, but Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz said at the meeting that that sum was “kind of an estimate.” A staff report included in the meeting packet states that the additional $4,500 required to hire Magellan Advisors is a “warranted” expense.
    Horowitz said the firm has “operator experience that’s pretty deep and impressed many of the committee members.”
    “The committee felt strongly that Magellan would move the project forward better,” she said.
    In November, the council approved the establishment of the committee to help the city develop the plan. The staff report states that the committee determined that a consultant could help develop the plan and educate the community on the benefits of investing in the city’s Internet infrastructure. In January, the city issued a request for proposals from qualified consultants.
    The request states that the project’s goals include identifying key short- (three-year), mid- (seven-year) and long-term (10-year) broadband policies and initiatives that the city can develop into a “unified technology policy.” The request also states that the city’s initial goal is to increase download speeds to at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds to at least 50 megabits per second for businesses and residences and to “anchor” institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings to at least a one gigabit per second broadband service.
    “The resort nature of the area has resulted in visitor, resident and second homeowner populations that call for higher levels of wireless and wire line connectivity than are typically seen in communities of comparable population,” the request states. “Several providers currently serve the area. There are gaps in coverage, speed and reliability, and a lack of an overall unified development plan.”
    According to the staff report, Magellan Advisors edged out six other applicants to secure the contract.
    “[Magellan Advisors has] knowledge of the entire process from planning to building, from end to end,” Committee Member Aaron Pearson, the Community Library’s information systems director, said at the meeting.
    The staff report includes a project timeline from Magellan Advisors that states the firm could begin working on the plan as soon as March 25. According to the timeline, the firm expects to conduct a “final plan review” with the committee in late July and expects to present a final version of the plan to the council sometime after July 26.    
Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




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