Telecommunications Consulting Services RFP: Questions and Answers
Scope of Work
Q: Are there seven or eight tasks that require completion?
A: There are seven tasks in the scope of work. The seventh task was erroneously labeled as Task 8.
Q: On page 4, under "TASK 1 - NEEDS ASSESSMENTS", it is indicated that the "Methods to accomplish this task could include a combination of written surveys, focus group meetings, and telephone surveys." The explanation goes on to detail the RDD sampling technology. Are all three types of surveys required? If not, can proposers include the costs for all three and allow the City to choose from these methods based on their judgment of cost benefit?
A: All three types of surveys are not required. The City would like to understand the relative benefits and costs of the various approaches to identifying local needs. Proposers are encouraged to recommend an approach, and identify any alternatives (and the costs) from which the City might select.
Q: In your description of Task 4 – Analysis of Community Organization Needs, you have requested that community organizations be surveyed. How many community organizations do you anticipate being surveyed?
A: At present, we have not identified the specific number of organizations to be surveyed. We are developing our list and expect to be able to identify the required number prior to the City Council’s award of a contract. As such, we ask that you assume for bidding purposes that the task will require 60 hours of work.
Q: What is the City's proposed time requirement for the completion of this project?
A: The City would like to complete this work as soon as is feasible. The Council would like to discuss the results of the study in spring or early summer.
City Fiber Backbone
We received a number of questions regarding the twenty-five mile fiber optic backbone installed by the City in 1999. We have grouped some of the questions to facilitate our responses.
Q: Does the pending assessment relate to some, all, or none of the City's fiber backbone?
A: The City’s fiber backbone and its potential uses are not the focus of this study. We are interested in Task 6 in a much broader assessment of potential City assets and opportunities, which run the gamut from economic development policies, lease of rights-of-way for private sector facilities siting, further municipal network development, to construction of telecom hotels. The fiber backbone should be evaluated as one of many potential City assets/opportunities.
RFP Questions and Answers
Q: Please disclose the size (number of strands) in the twenty-five mile fiber loop.
A: The fiber cable is 144 strands.
Q: Please disclose the nature of the fiber install (i.e., is the fiber single mode or a combination cable). If a combination, please provide a description of the strand mix.
A: The fiber is single mode.
Q: Is the twenty-five mile fiber loop in underground conduits or is it located on city power-owned poles? If the fiber is placed underground in conduits, is spare duct capacity available on that route?
A: Approximately 20 of the loop’s 25 miles are underground in the Water & Power Department’s power distribution system conduit. The remainder is overhead on City and other utility poles. Wherever possible, additional innerduct was installed in the underground portion of the fiber backbone route.
Q: You disclosed that a part of the fiber cable was leased to a telecommunications firm. To whom has the fiber been leased?
A: The fiber is leased to GST Telecom, which is in the process of assigning the lease agreement (and most of the rest of its assets) to Time Warner Telecom.
Q: How many strands were leased to that company? Of the remaining strands, how many are currently in use by the City and how many are available for dark fiber leases? How much of the fiber is dark today? How much of the fiber has been used for utility purposes or other City purposes? What are the applications or systems used?
A: The City has leased 120 of the 144 strands in the fiber backbone to GST Telecom. At present, all of these fibers are dark. The remaining 24 strands are either in use by the City for internal telecommunications links, are reserved for future City organizational telecommunications requirements, or have been leased to local institutions and their subcontractors. The primary City use at present is for data communications between City facilities. Planned uses include additional data communications links, and connectivity for voice and data communications between power substations, including SCADA transmissions.
Q: What are the terms of the lease(s)? What is the period of time associated with the strand lease to the telecommunications company? Are there any specific services required of the present leaseholder? Is there a deadline or service launch date specified in the existing leaseholder’s agreement? Does the City of Pasadena have the ability to cancel the lease with the telecommunications company under terms of non-performance?
A: The lease is an asset lease with a 20-year term, of which 18 years remain. Compensation to the City during the lease term is just over $4.8 million, and is based on a fixed payment schedule (vs. percentage of revenues). GST is not required to provide specific services, to the City or other customers, under the agreement. There is a use requirement in the agreement. Failure to use the fiber for six consecutive months can constitute breach of the agreement. Although the fiber has not been used, the City has chosen not to exercise that provision at this time as GST finalizes assignment of the lease to Time Warner Telecom. That firm has indicated plans to make use of the fiber in the near future.
Q: Does the City know if the telecom provider leasing the city’s fiber plans to offer CATV / Video services? High-speed data? Voice? Other? If so, do they know what technology will be used?
A: The present lessee, GST Telecom, is in the process of assigning its lease agreement with the City to Time Warner Telecom. Time Warner Telecom provides voice and high-speed data services to business customers. It has no plans that the City knows of to offer cable TV services. At this time, we do not know what technology they will use to provide services locally.
Q: Does the fiber optic backbone cable connect to or pass by the major telecommunications customers located in Pasadena? Please identify the major telecommunications customers connected to the City of Pasadena backbone network.
A: The fiber route was selected in order to pass both power substations and major telecommunications services consumers. These include: Caltech; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Earthlink Network; Huntington Memorial Hospital and a recently designated Bio-medical and Technology Corridor; Parsons Corporation; Jacobs Engineering; a variety of smaller technology firms; major City facilities; and both Pacific Bell and Verizon central offices. As indicated above, at this point in time GST is not providing service to customers via the fiber backbone. The City has licensed a small number of dark fiber strands to local institutions and their subcontractors. At present, these are the only commercial “customers” using the fiber ring.
City Department Needs
Q: Did the City administer the Sample Survey included in the RFP? If not, is it the City's desire that the successful company administer this survey or one substantially like it?
A: The City and its cable TV consultant administered the survey appended to the RFP in July 1999. The City would like the consultant selected for the work in this RFP to validate and expand upon survey results for key telecommunications areas of the City.
Q: In your description of Task 3 – Analysis of City Departmental Needs, you have disclosed a written survey related to the recent CATV franchise renewal. Could a summary of these survey results or the survey data itself be provided prior to submission of our bid under this RFP?
A: The detailed data from the previous cable TV franchise renewal survey will be available to the consultant selected to conduct this work. Highlights of the survey include:
· Fifteen of the 16 City departments (at that time) participated in the survey. Departments tended to take a short-term view of their requirements. The City’s central IT unit was charged with taking a broader view of citywide infrastructure requirements.
· The City has approximately 35 sites outside the main campus of buildings around City Hall.
· Departments currently use a variety of connections for their data networking requirements, including dedicated fiber, leased lines, coaxial cable, cable modems, POTS lines, and microwave.
· Two departments, Information Services (library) and Human Services, Recreation and Neighborhoods, provide public access to computers for Internet access and training purposes.
· Most departments foresee the need for higher communications speeds for current applications, such as Internet browsers, traffic signal control systems, the City financial system, library-related software, and a personnel scheduling application.
· Nine of the 15 departments have planned application upgrades or new technology implementations that will further increase bandwidth requirements. These include deployment of voice over IP, current implementation of a citywide geographic information system (GIS), anticipated use of video conferencing and related training applications, and increased telecommuting.
· Thirteen of the departments regularly exchange data with other organizations, ranging from simple database access to real-time data updates (particularly by Water & Power).
Q: Has the City’s Water and Power Department identified any telecommunication needs? Have any of these systems been deployed using other telecommunications methods (radio, etc…?)
A: The Water & Power Department has identified a variety of voice, data, security, and video needs. Existing telecommunications connections are made via fiber, leased lines, and microwave.
· SCADA Systems? A SCADA system is needed to support the Department’s Power activities. A Water SCADA system is in place, with connections currently made over leased lines.
· Remote Meter Reading? The Department plans to deploy remote meter reading in the future to serve a broad spectrum of customers.
· Remote Disconnect? A previous remote disconnect program was discontinued. In light of current electric demand and supply issues, the Department may look at re-implementing a remote disconnect program.
· Data transport (satellite offices, work at home, etc…)? The Department currently has fiber connections between major facilities for data transmission. There are plans to make use of fiber to connect power substations in the near future. At this point, telecommuting doesn’t account for a significant portion of how work is conducted in the Department. Some employees use POTS lines to access email from home.
· Off premise voice extensions? Off premise extensions are used at Department satellite sites.
· Mobile radio telecommunications needs or improvements? The Department currently makes use of analog radios for field communications. While the need to move to digital radios citywide has been acknowledged, there are no firm plans to do so at this time outside of the Police Department.
Q: In respect to Remote Meter Reading (AMR), what vendor or system, if any, has been deployed and to what penetration of the market?
A: While remote meter reading has been identified as a need by Water & Power, there is not a system in place or being implemented at present.
Q: Are there City departments other than Water & Power that need or desire telecommunications from a future city wide, city-owned network?
A: Yes. As noted in the description of survey results above, the City has a significant number of remote sites with a variety of telecommunications requirements, ranging from video training for public safety functions, to sharing of very large GIS data sets, to links for the traffic control system. These are described in more detail in the surveys themselves. Additional information on requirements will be gathered through interviews with key City telecom users as described in Task 3.
Local Educational Institutions
Q: The Pasadena Unified School District has published a Technology Plan. How much of the plan has been implemented? Can you identify that portion of the plan that will not be implemented and explain the change of plans prior to the submission of our bid?
A (Provided by the Pasadena Unified School District): The District’s Technology Plan covers a number of areas. The status of the various areas is as follows:
· Internet access: Internet access is via both the Los Angeles County Office of Education and Pacific Bell Internet Services over T1s. The District provides centralized filtering of Internet content.
· Wide area network: Each school site in the District is connected to the District Office via a T1 circuit.
· School site local area networks: All secondary and 10 of the elementary schools in the District have internal data connections consisting of a fiber backbone and at least four Cat 5 data drops in each classroom. The 13 remaining elementary schools are scheduled to be installed by September 2001. In some facilities, electrical upgrades are needed and will be made under a bond-funded campus renovation program.
· Classroom technology: The School Board has not committed to annual funding of classroom technology. MS Windows is the preferred desktop operating system. High schools are using Digital High School grant money for technology purchases. Other sources of funding are also being explored to obtain technology for District classrooms.