A pilot program meant to bring internet access to four low-income Madison neighborhoods has ended after a second call for proposals to manage it went unanswered. The city severed ties with the local company originally implementing the project earlier this year.
Madison-based ResTech Services had been working to build a fiber-optic broadband network in Darbo-Worthington, Brentwood, Allied Drive and Kennedy Heights neighborhoods through the program, called Connecting Madison. The city and ResTech signed a $512,000 contract in March 2016.
However, the implementation process was slow and ultimately ended with the city sending a “cease and desist” letter to ResTech. The city is still working to resolve the matter, Assistant City Attorney Roger Allen said this week.
The city issued a second request for proposals April 12 to find a company that would operate the infrastructure in place as a continuous program but did not receive any responses by the May 25 deadline.
So the city spent half-a-million tax dollars to give 19 people cheap internet even though there are several private market options for those folks. And what did the city leaders learn from this debacle? They didn’t spend enough:
Edgerton said the outcome of Connecting Madison illustrated that the program needed more vetting of the vendor, dedicated staff to work with the vendor and funds to market the program.