Wilson building its own fiber-optic network
Posted March 21, 2007
Updated May 9, 2010
Wilson, N.C. — Wilson leaders believe fiber lines for high-speed Internet and cable are an important piece of infrastructure as sewer lines for economic growth. When the city could not find a private company to provide the service, planners decided to build their own network.
The city installed a 30-mile loop of fiber optic line about a year ago. Its long-term goal is to help local businesses.
"Our businesses and industries need to be able to send and receive huge amounts of data these days," said Brian Bowman, city spokesman. "Currently, there is no good way for them to do that and the city wants to make sure we provided that to them to make them as competitive as possible."
The Local Government Commission recently approved financing to expand the $28 million project. Wilson plans to offer broadband Internet, phone service and cable TV to any business or home in the city limits. The city said it is faster than anything currently available.
"This is a service that was not provided that we're stepping in to provide," Bowman said.
The plan will create competition with Time Warner, which is currently the largest cable provider in Wilson.
"We think it's interesting that a municipality is going into the cable business," said Brad Phillips, of Time Warner Cable. "We've been there a long time. We've been competing for a long time. We'll continue to serve Wilson."
Wilson residents can also choose from several satellite and phone companies. Time Warner representatives said some other cities that have tried their own fiber network failed because of a lack of resources and money.
"It takes a lot of money to provide video, high-speed data and phone services, so I think as they go through the process, they'll see just out capital intensive it is," Phillips said.
Wilson said its system will be self-supportive and use no tax money. Only residents who choose to subscribe will help pay for the system.
Wilson city offices are already running on the new fiber system. They expect to sign up the first residential customers by next winter and have it available on all city property within two years.