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Fiber optic update: City trying to get the word out on possibilities

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
To get the message out about their fiber-to-the-home cable utility now under construction, Salisbury city officials already have conducted radio, newspaper and magazine interviews.
The city also hopes to provide daily “fiber” updates on its blog (www.salisburyftthblog.com) and have a continuing newspaper advertisement called “Straight Talk about Fiber” in the Post.
“I think communication is the key,” Mayor Susan Kluttz said.
Kluttz added there is considerable interest across the city and state in Salisbury’s $30 million decision to invest in fiber-optic cable, which officials tout as the infrastructure which could set Salisbury apart in coming decades.
City Manager David Treme said Tuesday the possibilities are exciting for tele-medicine, education and public safety and go way beyond the city’s simply competing against incumbent providers of telephone, television and Internet services.
Broadband Director Mike Crowell gave Salisbury City Council an update Tuesday on the early stages of the system’s construction, which is being overseen by Atlantic Engineering Group of Braselton, Ga.
For the most part, Atlantic Engineering Group has been going underground in various Salisbury neighborhoods first, laying down the conduit and setting in vaults through which fiber-optic cable will be pulled later.
Crowell said underground installation of the conduit has been completed in 12 areas, with two more under way this week.
The city has been divided into 68 areas, each of which will have a LCP (Local Convergence Point) cabinet. Fiber-optic cable from the head-end facility (to be built on South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue) connects to the splitters in each cabinet and from there the fiber will feed homes and businesses.
The location of all 68 cabinets ó each the size of a mini-fridge ó has been approved, including three which had to be OK’d by the Historic Preservation Commission.
Detailed designs are completed for 32 of the 68 areas with seven more pending city approval. “This means those areas have been approved for construction,” Crowell said.
In addition, each area has to be submitted to Duke Energy for “make-ready” design on Duke utility poles.
So far 39 “books” (a book is submitted for each area) have been submitted to Duke, which has OK’d 24.
Crowell said 22 areas in the city will have only aerial construction ó that is, fiber strung on utility poles ó while 46 areas will have a combination of aerial and underground construction, or underground only.
The make-ready work, which lays out how things will be moved on poles to accommodate the city’s fiber, has been approved for 16 areas.
Atlantic Engineering Group has hired Utililines as subcontractor to perform the make-ready work.
Utililines started this week, Crowell said.
Aerial construction of the fiber-optic cable will begin July 6. Atlantic Engineering will be bringing in two extra crews then and two to four splicers.
Crowell said Utililines has two light-duty crews in Salisbury now and tries to make-ready 20 poles a day. Beginning June 29, Utililines will bring in two heavy-duty crews to begin installation of new poles where needed.
“We’re beginning to be all around town,” Treme said.

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