WSOC TV in Charlotte recently looked at Salisbury's four-year-old Fibrant network. Reporter Tenikka Smith investigated what a municipal network could do for Charlotte. Charlotte is also one of the communities working with Google in hopes of having it expand to them. That interest has led AT&T to consider updating its comparatively pathetic DSL services as well.
Smith spoke with a Salisbury small business owner who switched to Fibrant in 2010. Rick Anderson-McCombs of the Sidewalk Deli noted fast speeds and high quality voice service from Fibrant. According to Anderson-McCombs' mother, Angenetta Dover, the deli also saves $30 - $40 per month compared to past service with the local incumbent. Dover also uses the service at her home and notices a significant improvement:
"Even (the) lowest speed and slowest speed is super compared to what we used to have to do," she said.
Robert Van Goen from Rowan County's economic development coalition, Rowan Works, believes a municipal network could be a smart investment for Charlotte. The network tells potential job creators that a community is "prepared to do business for the next 10, 15, 20 years and compete in the global marketplace."
WSOC TV compared prices; they found Time Warner Cable and AT&T offered basic triple-play bundles - up to 6 Mbps download - for $79 per month. Upload speeds, the real test for businesses, are typically much slower. Fibrant's lowest tier triple-play bundle offered 20 Mbps symmetrical service for $97 per month.
Saving money for better service is always a winning strategy. Local businesses often consider other benefits from municipal networks; Anderson-McCombs told Smith his motivation reached beyond financials:
“The main reason I got Fibrant was not so much to help my business, but help my town because I think it's very progressive of Salisbury to include Wi-Fi and Internet service in our utilities."
Below is an ad Fibrant created with local businesses describing the superior service of Fibrant phone. Though residents may be less enthusiastic about phone service, it is the lifeblood of many local businesses.