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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesviNGN Awards More Broadband Contracts

viNGN Awards More Broadband Contracts

The board of the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network voted Tuesday to award two contracts to local companies to further work on the territory’s massive broadband project.

MSI Building Supplies, owned and operated by the Thomas Brunt family for more than 30 years, was awarded the contract to supply fiber optic cable at a cost of $646,000.

Rumina Construction, LLC was granted a $159,735 contract to build a Fiber Access Point or FAP, a housing for broadband equipment, at the University of the Virgin Islands. Franklyn Victor, president, said he has 15 years in the business, first working for other companies, and later with his own company, Franklyn Victor Maintenance. According to an Internet listing, Rumina is located in Hospital Ground on St. Thomas.

Lawrence Kupfer, who took over as Chief Executive Officer for viNGN a month ago, said the internal committee that assesses bids had rated both awardees highly based on a number of factors, including experience and past performance.

MSI received 258 points, and its only competitor for supplying the fiber optic cable, Fiber Net, scored 200. Kupfer said MSI’s bid was about what the entity had expected the cost to be. Additionally, “We know what we’re going to get” because MSI will procure the cable from the same source that provided “what we have in the warehouse” from a previous purchase.

For the construction contract, Rumina scored 440 points, compared to 423 for Balboa Construction and 401 for Apex Construction, the other bidders on the UVI contract.

Kupfer told the board that Balboa was the low bidder, but then withdrew its bid. Members expressed confusion over the reasoning for the withdrawal. Kupfer said the committee had some reservations about awarding the company another contract since it “was falling behind” on work to the super FAP at Nisky Center. There also was some concern on the company’s side about the requirement for a 100 percent construction bond.

That prompted a question about the issue of bonding, the cost of which has long been the source of difficulty for relatively small local companies.

“We put RFPs (Request for Proposals) out last week for another six FAPs,” said Kupfer, adding that the response should give the government a better idea about the bonding issue.

After approving both contracts, the board met for about 15 minutes in executive session. Gov. John deJongh, chairman, said that the 15-minuite meeting involved discussion of “principally personnel matters” and no action was taken.

The governor and Kupfer attended the meeting at viNGN offices in Havensight. Board members Keith O’Neale, Hugo Hodge, Douglas Whitehead, and Alfred Boschulte joined by conference call.

The multi-million dollar, territory-wide technology upgrade is being funded largely by the federal government, and the Virgin Islands is under the gun to prove it is expending federal funds expeditiously.

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