15 February 2010

Provincial Government Broadband Disaster

A mere two months after pumping up its broadband initiative on a federal government website, the provincial government announced Monday that:

Effective immediately, the Provincial Government will be re-examining its approach to improving the communications infrastructure …

The reason is buried  -  quel surprise  -  in a government news release issued Monday and called an '”update”:

Due to anticipated project costs escalating to more than half a billion dollars, the Provincial Government has cancelled the RFP [request for proposals].

The request for proposals dates back to late 2007 and was supposed to “build and manage an advanced communications network” that would connect “more than 1,000 facilities that include health care institutions, libraries, schools, and other [provincial government] offices.”

Connecting government offices was supposed to be one spinoff benefit from the highly controversial 2006 fibreoptic deal. Under the deal with three private-sector firms, the provincial government was supposed to purchase a quantity of fibreoptic cabling that would then allow government offices, schools and hospitals to be connected.

That provincial government system was supposed to allow private sector carriers to improve service in rural parts of the province.

According to innovation minister Shawn Skinner, the provincial government will start new talks with the tele-communications industry now that the request for proposals process failed after two years of talks.

There’s no word on how long those talks might take before there’s any sign of whether or not the provincial government’s plan can be salvaged.