'); } -->
Share your community news, announcements and events with us.
This town may be the next to reach for its own high-speed fiber-optic network.
With a Holly Springs Town Council vote on Friday, town staff continued planning a town-owned network “backbone” that could serve government facilities, schools and private Internet providers.
If the plan proceeds, the town could lay its own “fiber ring” between major local institutions and lease out extra bandwidth to businesses and ISPs. The network also could connect to the high-speed N.C. Research and Education Network.
Holly Springs would lay up to 16 miles of underground cabling at an estimated cost of about $1.5 million to start the new network. Town staff say the local government could recoup its costs within a decade simply by eliminating the projected cost of Time Warner data service to town facilities.
“We’ve had an issue with being so dependent on two (Internet) providers in this area that basically lock us in on price,” said Jeff Wilson, the town’s information technology director.
The local government’s current Time Warner bill is nearly $100,000 per year, and government offices are already hitting their data limits.
The town’s also pitching the project as a magnet for businesses. A company like Novartis looks for low-cost, high-speed connections, staff argued. And the town could make money by leasing its new fiber to companies that would sell faster, cheaper Internet access to residents and businesses.
“The least it could do is hopefully increase competition,” Wilson said.
Holly Springs may also join the regional arm of Gig.U, an alliance of universities and municipalities looking to build a public-private network from Raleigh to Winston-Salem. Cary leaders recently agreed to join the Gig.U venture.
First, though, Holly Springs will build a business case. The consulting firm CTC Inc. will help the town study potential costs and opportunities. Town staff will ask the town council to sign off on a contract with the firm at a later date.
If built, the new network would be an “asset” with a lifespan of 30 years or more, Wilson said. The fiber would push gigabit speeds at first, between 10 and 100 times faster than most commercial offerings in the area.
Eventually, the town could push the network to 100 gigabits per second with upgrades to transmission equipment.
The plan already is gaining traction. The town has laid out specific routes for the cable and is considering construction methods.
If it proceeds, the network may come in three to five phases, and could be expanded later alongside new roads and other public facilities, according to staff plans.
“We think that we’re in excellent position to move forward on this,” Wilson said.
As in other towns, the early debate has showed one thing’s sure: There is growing frustration in the Triangle about the rates and services offered by local Internet companies.
“You might be shocked at how much we actually pay Time Warner every year,” Wilson told the council.
“You won’t shock us – we all pay it too,” replied Councilwoman Linda Hunt Williams.
Then came a voice from the back of the room: “Not anymore.”