SCABC narrows potential partners down to three

Published 3:13 pm Friday, May 31, 2013

Officials with the South Central Alabama Broadband Commission are taking another step forward.

The SCABC board of directors recently agreed to hold a public workshop at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 13, at the Lowndes County Water Authority Building in Hayneville to hear proposals from three companies vying to design, build, finance and operate a broadband network in eight South Central Alabama counties.

“We’re ready to rock and roll to provide the network and service we promised these eight counties and 37 cities three years ago that they would get,” said Dr. Aaron D. McCall, managing director of the South Central Alabama Broadband Commission.

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The SCABC made the decision as a step toward selecting a private partner to build and operate a broadband network at a meeting hosted by Mosses Mayor Walter Hill at the Mosses Municipal Complex.

According to McCall, a request for qualifications, approved by the SCABC board of directors at its last meeting, was published through industry sites and groups on and direct solicitations.

After receiving seven responses, the SCABC narrowed the list of potential private partners to three.

Those three are G4S, Mastec and Magellan Partners; Oasis Consulting Services; and URS, Fujitsu and Turtles & Hughes.

The SCABC was originally formed to own and manage a broadband communications infrastructure designed to bridge the digital divide in south central Alabama.

The original project to construct 2,200 miles of fiber-optic broadband network in Butler, Crenshaw, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Lowndes, Macon and Wilcox counties was to be funded by a  $59 million in federal grant money and $27 million in matching funds.

While funding to grant recipient Trillion Communications was terminated in October of 2012, the SCABC has continued efforts to move a broadband project forward.

McCall said the SCABC now consists of five member counties including Conecuh, Dallas, Lowndes, Macon and Wilcox, as well as numerous municipalities in the eight-county footprint.

“As managing director of the SCABC, I’m very excited,” McCall said. “I’m excited about where we are and where we are going.”

He said two months ago, the SCABC released information that it was talking with entities that had the capability to come forward and provide funding for the SCABC Network.

He said the public is invited to attend the June 13 workshop to hear from three of largest, most capable broadband companies in the country with a wealth of experience to partner with the SCABC to develop and build the network to served 75,000 homes in south central Alabama.

“From today’s take away and from today’s reaction of the board, I think that we are on our way,” McCall said. “… I think the citizens of this community will be very well pleased once we get it going,” McCall said.

According to McCall, the SCABC will own the network in trust for all eight counties.

The SCABC regularly meets the fourth Thursday of each month.