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Wilson Takes on Cable Giant With New Fiber-Optic Network

Posted February 26, 2008

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— Wilson is installing its own Internet, cable and phone service to sell to residents. The plan is creating competition with Time Warner, currently the largest cable provider in the city.

Wilson installed a 30-mile loop of fiber-optic line about two years ago. Since then, crews have dug and laid several hundred miles of fiber lines throughout the city.

Wilson officials believe high-speed Internet technology is crucial to attracting new businesses.

“It's lightening compared to other places and you can have more users on it,” Sunil Patel said.

Patel opened a hotel in Wilson last week, and was one of the first to tap into the new fiber lines.

Soon high-speed Internet, phone service and cable TV will be offered to any business or home in the city limits.

“It's an exciting thing. It's a community based network and we're really glad to see it coming to fruition here,” Brian Bowman, the city’s public information manager, said.

Some city officials said they are worried Time Warner Cable will unfairly fight to keep its subscribers.

Bowman said Wilson residents have been flooded recently with new deals and offers from Time Warner.

“The cable company has started calling people in Wilson and offering to double their Road Runner speeds at no extra cost if they'll sign a two-year contract. My understanding is their not making that offer in Raleigh,” Bowman said.

“We are aware of what the city is doing. We are aware of what our customers want and we're working hard to market to those customers to provide those services,” said Brad Phillips, of Time Warner Cable.

Phillips also claims Time Warner updates its services to stay competitive everywhere.

“We're not doing anything that's targeted just for Wilson unlike anywhere else. A promotion that's offered in Raleigh is available in Wilson and vice-versa,” he added.

“We don't mind the competition. The competition is welcomed. We just want them to be honest,” Bowman said.

Last year, the Local Government Commission approved financing to expand the $28 million fiber optic project.

Wilson officials said the fiber-optic network will be self-supportive and use no tax money. Only residents who choose to subscribe will pay for the system.

Wilson plans to start rolling out its new residential service this spring.

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  • DougWare.NET Feb 28, 2008

    You can easily get 20M using cable modems. The original (1.0) Docsis (cable modem) standard allows for 38M downstream and 10M upstream. I have 8M down and 0.75M upstream. The real question is do they have the backhaul bandwidth to provide that to the customer?

  • rackem77 Feb 27, 2008

    What the story failed to mention is that Wilson's network will be a LOT faster than TWC's. No way can you get 20M at a house in Raleigh.

    Also, I live in Wilson. I know at least three guys who have gotten the call from Time Warner about doubling the speed. The tech guy even told one of them they were making the offer because of the city's fiber optic lines. That TW spokesman doesn't know what he's talking about.

  • smcallah Feb 27, 2008

    "I don't think there is anything inherent about capitalism that says local governments can't participate. Maybe if gov't learned to compete more we just might get more for our tax dollars."

    Really? So it's fair for a government entity to build a competing business with tax dollars that it received from businesses it competes with?

    Government should not be in the business of running "luxuries." They should stick to running necessities, with no profit. If they want competition, they should legislate it, not fund it and run it.

    And trying to make it self-funded means that it will be subpar with employees that don't know what they're doing. And if they do know what they're doing, they're going to be looking for a higher paying job than a city can possibly pay them.

  • dah0219 Feb 27, 2008

    I'm from Wilson and signed onto the 2-year deal Monday (std cable, phone, internet), reducing my bill $20. They installed an additional modem to run just the internet, but I cannot tell any difference in speed. The contract also gave us unlimited nation wide long distance where we previous had Carolinas only. So with a guaranteed rate of $114.95 for 2 years, I'm satisfied.

    I have been aware of the city's project but do not believe it can be delivered as promised (no taxes, strictly revenue generated will pay for and support it) or any cheaper......we''ll see.

  • DougWare.NET Feb 27, 2008

    I live in Durham, but I was a network engineer at a major Wilson ISP for nearly 9 years. I called TWC to find out if the "Double your speed for a 2 year contract" was true. They denied it, they said that 10meg (I currently have 8meg) is coming in the next few months, but that's it.

    Anyone from Wilson care to post the details of what TWC is offering you?

  • wralgolo Feb 27, 2008

    Personally, I'd kill to get something like Verizon's FIOS service in this area. That's be supercool :) But that's not gonna happen anytime soon, is it? *sigh*

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Feb 27, 2008

    Wilson is simply providing infrastructure and public services. TWC doesn't want to provide more bandwidth that people want. The cost is not worth the benfit to TWC, which is fine. But is also fine if a group (in this case a town) wants to get together and provide the service for themselves. Just think of the internet like roads. I also don't mind if TWC competes hard on price, the original point was Wilson providing more speed.

  • Adelinthe Feb 27, 2008

    Great idea to get TWC righteous; at the present time, they run the market and can charge as much as they like.

    Hoping Raleigh gets the idea and acts too, although there may be something in Raleigh's contract with TWC that prohibits it here.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • rafiki Feb 27, 2008

    It's about time! Time Warner has been the monopoly for a long time if every city can get their own stuff Time Warner would consider raising their cable bill each year!

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Feb 27, 2008

    Sounds like a great idea. Kudos to Wilson for taking the initiative to provide their citizens with a choice other than the pseudo monopolies like the cable and phone companies.

    I'm sort of surprised (well not really) that so many folks are criticizing Wilson before we really know any details. I guess they like our current system of cable and phone companies charging us more dollars for less bandwidth than just about anywhere else in the developed world. This might be an angle to give them some real competition, at a local level, that just might drive down prices a little bit.

    I don't think there is anything inherent about capitalism that says local governments can't participate. Maybe if gov't learned to compete more we just might get more for our tax dollars.

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