High-speed Internet service project moves into design and engineering phase

The RSF Association Technology Committee is advancing the high-speed Internet project and will commission a firm to create plans for the architecture of a fiber network. The RSF Association Board of Directors deemed this project the most important strategic initiative for 2017, and the Tech Committee has been working diligently and quickly to bring gigabit Internet speeds to our community. We are excited to have completed the research and analysis phase, and we are now moving into the engineering and design phase.

Over the past several weeks, the Tech Committee has completed several rounds of meetings with vendors that offer Internet and media services, engineering and design expertise, and network construction services. We engaged with the key players, large and small, that have had success bringing high-speed Internet to communities. We met with existing providers of Internet services in our area to probe their commitments to expand and upgrade their current offering. We researched fiber-optic cable networks being built in other communities, such as Sea Ranch in Sonoma County. We studied many approaches with different network designs, some involving legacy and hybrid network designs. We also examined various construction and installation techniques for their suitability to our geography and to assess costs.

After a thorough job exploring the industry and our options, the Tech Committee determined that the best way to move forward is to create the network design. On Feb. 27, we issued a request for Proposals (RFP) for network architecture to a number of the qualified vendors we have vetted. The network design is the simplest, most flexible and reliable approach that the committee considered.

Here’s how the network will be fashioned: Single fibers will run to every member home and building site from a centrally located network hub building. Optical processing equipment will be located in the network hub and in the member homes via modem devices. The fiber cables may be buried underground in the roads or in the utility right-of way alongside the roads. Backup electrical power and redundant outside Internet connections for the network will be installed at the hub. We believe this design will create a highly reliable, low-maintenance and very secure network.

The Tech Committee has considered use of the Association trail system and is considering Association owned-trails (such as trails around the Golf Club). We identified trails in the utility right-of-way along roadways for use in the design. As we move along in the design phase, if a particular trail has high potential, we may contact homeowners to discuss their willingness to grant a utility easement on the portion of the trail crossing their property.

Once proposals are received, the committee will review them for vendor credentials and experience, cost to create the design, and quality of their engineering and construction resources. We will then select the vendor that is the best fit and most advantageous to our project. The Tech Committee’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Audit/Finance Committee and the Board of Directors for approval. Deliverables of the design contract will include a detailed construction cost estimate and engineering and construction drawings for the planned network.

We are excited to bring our plan to the community and, with member approval, advance as rapidly as possible. We understand how much a fiber network will positively impact our daily lives, improve our community and boost property values, and will continue to move this important project forward.

The Tech Committee will communicate with members throughout the engineering and design phase, and will keep you up to date on our next steps. We are excited to welcome new Association Manager Bob Hall, and know that this initiative will benefit from his complex project and regulatory approval experience.

As always, the Tech Committee encourages all comments or suggestions on this vital project from our members and Village businesses. You may email comments to RSFA@RSFAssociation.org.

Sapp and Licosati are RSF Association board members and Technology Committee co-chairs

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