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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

City may spend $100,000 for consultant’s help on Ocala Fiber Network

Ocala officials will consider entering a $100,000 consulting agreement with a Colorado-based company to help the city determine the “growth and viability” of Ocala’s Fiber Network throughout residential and commercial neighborhoods.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Ocala City Council, members will vote on whether or not to approve an agreement for consulting services with Uptown Services, LLC, which is based in Boulder, Colorado.

According to city records, the group will be contracted to review the Ocala Fiber Network business plan strategies and “assess growth and viability in residential and commercial development.”

In addition to evaluating the business plan, Uptown Services would also be asked to “review current and proposed consumer service offerings and compare pricing structures against those of major internet service providers,” reads a memo prepared by city staff.

The consultant’s evaluation would also determine the feasibility of Ocala Fiber Network’s current business practices, as well as provide cost estimates for any recommended capital improvements and a 10-year estimation of “operational and maintenance” expenses.

According to records, the city first issued a request for proposals for consulting services on September 12, 2023. The solicitation period closed on October 27, 2023, with three proposals submitted during that time.

In addition to the proposal from Uptown, the city also received proposals from Columbia Telecommunications Corporation out of Kensington, Maryland, and Magellan Advisors, LLC out of Denver, Colorado.

On December 5, 2023, the city’s selection committee met and scored the proposals, ranking Uptown ahead of the other two companies.

Over the past several years, the Ocala Fiber Network has not seen any growth in its residential offering. According to its website, the service is currently available in Happiness Homes, Windstream, Ocala Highlands, Bellechase, Silver Hammock and Hunters Ridge.

Those are the same communities that had the service dating back to at least 2021.

Despite its lack of growth, its clear that residents are eager for the service to expand into their section of the city.

Over the past few years, the Ocala Fiber Network has been accepting “future requests and for residential internet services” from residents in the community who would like to be able to purchase the service.

The city has received hundreds of requests for Ocala Fiber Network inclusion from residents. (Photo: City of Ocala)
The city has received hundreds of requests for Ocala Fiber Network inclusion from residents. (Photo: City of Ocala)

That map shows hundreds and hundreds of requests from all over the city and county.