METLA is encouraging all districts explore their options regarding both Data and Internet Circuits. Some general guidelines are as follows:
FIRST, IF YOU ARE USING AT&T WAN SERVICES, YOU MUST HAVE AN OPT OUT LETTER TURNED IN TO AT&T RIGHT NOW! THIS MUST BE DONE EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!!!
YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO SEND IN AN OPT OUT LETTER IF YOU ARE ONLY LOOKING FOR INTERNET SERVICES IN PLACE OF THE SERVICES CURRENTLY BEING PAID FOR BY MDE.
IF YOU ARE PAYING AT&T FOR INTERNET SERVICES AND NOT MDE, THEN THE OPT OUT LETTER IS REQUIRED.
NO DISTRICT HAS BEEN PENALIZED FOR SENDING IN AN OPT OUT LETTER THEN STAYING WITH AT&T. IN FACT, JUST THE OPPOSITE HAS HAPPENED. *
1) Since consortium contracts are limited in both scope, number of vendors who participate you may wish to you issue your own 470 rather than using a consortium contract for services. Since you still must issue an RFP for services to all consortium vendors, the only difference is you have to issue the 470 and you have the potential for more responses which would likely be to your benefit.
2) START THE FORMAL BID PROCESS RIGHT NOW THEN LEAVE THE RFP OUT FOR AT LEAST TWO MONTHS (Required only one month but the more time you give the vendors the better your chances of getting good pricing).
You must do a formal bid because the life of the contract is likely to go over $50,000.00
BE SURE TO CONSULT YOUR BUSINESS MANAGER AND LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE REGARDING THE FORMAL BID
THE FORMAL BID PROCESS INCLUDES
- Board Approval for Bidding
- 2 Bid notice publications in your local paper 14 Days apart
- Notice to the Mississippi Procurement Technical Assistance Program
- Sealed Bids
- Board Approval of the Bid Winner
- Board approval of the resulting contract.
- 470 Must be out at least 28 days and the 28 days must end on or before the day of the bid opening. We recommend that you leave the 470 open for the entier time the bid is on the street.
Post your 470 and RFP as early as possible and allow vendors time to properly complete your RFP. It takes a significant amount of time to properly survey the routes within your district, to determine the required permits that will be needed, distances and portions of the routes that would require underground rather than above ground installations. The more time you give the vendors, the better they will be able to tweak their pricing and the better deal you will get for your district and the taxpayers.
3) Your building to building circuits RFP should be on the street for no less than TWO MONTHS to provide vendors with sufficient time to give you the best pricing possible. The 28 days required by the SLD is a MINIMUM. You are allowed to go over that minimum by as much as you wish.
4) If you intend to apply for Internet services consider the fact that if a service provider wins your Data Circuits (WAN) they might be in a better position to offer you Internet than if they were not your WAN provider. We suggest that you make the service providers give you TWO prices for Intenet. One if they win the WAN bid and one if they do not, then evaluate them individually or as a complete package from a single vendor.
5) Along with posting your RFP through the 470 process, we recommend that you also send your RFP to the following vendors who have shown interest in these projects in Mississippi (listed alphabetically).
AT&T “Gayle Price” <Gayle.Price(AT)att.com>
BCI Mary Tucker <mtucke(AT)bcianswers.com>
Detel Chris Juneau <Chris.Juneau(AT)detel.com>
InLine Derrick Lindsay <dlindsay(AT)inline.com>
Information Transport Systems Zach Milstead <zachary.milstead(AT)its-networks.com>
Telepak “Millie P. Rollins” <MRollins(AT)telepak.com>
Southern Light <cjones(AT)slfiber.com> ESPECIALLY ON THE GULF COAST
WindStream “Smothers, Robert” <Robert.Smothers(AT)windstream.com>
IF YOUR RFP INCLUDES INTERNET
Internet Doorway (Netdoor) <Sales(AT)Netdoor.com>
* Many districts sent in the Opt Out Letter on July 1 of 2010. For a few, the new services were not complete by July 1, 2011 so they did not send AT&T a turn off notice until later. When they did, AT&T sent them a letter saying that the Opt Out letter had expired and they had to stay with AT&T another year.
AT&Ts action tells us two things:
1) We must send in the letter every single year or they will not acknowledge it.
2) They will absolutely not punish you for sending it in then staying with them. In fact, what they are doing is just the opposite.