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  Regular Agenda Item     4. E.    
Regular BOS Meeting
Meeting Date: 03/24/2020  
Submitted For: Homero Vela Submitted By: Homero Vela, Assistant County Manager
Department: Assistant County Manager  
Fiscal Year: FY19-20 and FY20-21 Budgeted?: Yes
Contract Dates
Begin & End:
March 24-2020 - March 23 2021 Grant?: Yes
Matching
Requirement?:
Yes
Fund?: New

Information
Request/Subject
Update the Board on ongoing planning efforts to develop and document a strategic broadband plan for Gila County and to request Board approval of the Grant Agreement (Award No. RBDG20-B-02).
Background Information
On October 15, 2019, the Board of Supervisors authorized the submittal of the FY2020 Arizona Rural Broadband Development Grant (RDBG) Application to the Arizona Commerce Authority in support of the development of a Countywide strategic broadband plan. The Arizona Commerce Authority has reviewed the application and awarded Gila County a $50,000 planning grant. The grant awards were announced on January 10, 2020, and the award packet has been recently made available.

The grant is contingent on $15,000 of matching funds from Gila County and an in-kind contribution of $10,000. The FY19/20 Gila County Budget includes funding to support the matching funds and the in-kind contribution will be satisfied by staff participation (value of time spent) in the planning process.

The grant deliverables are:
  • A conceptual design for a fiber network to a home or business within the boundaries of Gila County that includes open access to all interested ISPS, allowing choice and competition.
  • A network design that utilizes the latest network management and virtualization technology.
  • Provide a cost breakdown based on the design and specification of inside and outside plant equipment
  • Conduct preliminary and subsequent surveys to assess the current level of broadband services and determine the market for a network with advance capabilities.
  • Develop a project plan based on risk mitigation and market take-rate.
  • Prepare financial Pro-forma (financial reports based on assumptions/plans) for the construction period and first year of operation.
  • Assist with community engagement and customer acquisition.
The goal is to provide affordable, universal broadband on a Countywide basis via a robust, smart and future proof network – to both businesses and residents.
Evaluation
The Board has previously approved a contract with EntryPoint Networks to help satisfy the grant deliverables. The grant will help fund this expenditure. The grant also provides for additional monies to help fund network design as needed.

Gila County has shared the scope of the broadband plan with various cities and town councils, including the Town of Payson, Town of Miami, City of Globe, and Star Valley. Plans are underway to visit with Hayden and Winkelman. All the municipalities visited thus far have agreed to participate in the planning process. The grant funding will allow Gila County to examine, research, review, develop and document the most appropriate broadband network for our area.
Conclusion
The current Internet Service Providers do not have a redundant or reliable broadband network. The deficient network poses a daily risk to disrupt business continuity and is a significant barrier to new business development in the County. The development of the strategic broadband plan is the first step in implementing a fiber-optic network for Gila County which would improve connectivity for homes and businesses and strengthen economic growth. 
Recommendation
Staff recommends that the Board of Supervisors approve the FY2020 Arizona Rural Broadband Development Grant Agreement (Award No. RBDG20-B-02). The grant will provide funding to help Gila County and the municipalities to work together to develop a regional strategic broadband plan.
Suggested Motion
Information/Discussion/Action to accept the FY2020 Arizona Rural Broadband Development Grant in the amount of $50,000 from the Arizona Commerce Authority and authorize the Chairman's signature on the Grant Agreement (Award No. RDBG20-B-02). (Homero Vela)

Attachments
Grant Agreement (Award # RBDG20-B-02)
Award Letter
Grant Application

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