Wineka column: Playing fiber-optic name game

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The city of Salisbury is finding it difficult to come up with a name for the fiber-optic cable utility it hopes to launch by next June.
To put it simply, all the good names are taken.
Mike Crowell, director of broadband services ó he jokes that he is the director of BS ó says the city can’t find a name that it can both trademark and get a domain name for.
“Trying to get those two together is tricky,” he says.
(A domain name would be something like or
A few weeks ago, city officials thought they had the perfect name óVast ó and an ingenious tagline:
“When it comes to quality, the difference is Vast.”
But an attorney checked on the federal trademark and learned that a Vast Communications already exists in New York.
Crowell guesses the city has considered some 200 other names.
The trouble is, those names often have gone to a committee of five people, and it’s been difficult to arrive at something everybody likes.
Salisbury has even considered opening it up to a public contest, but I think the fear of receiving a lot of snide suggestions from smart alecks ó people like me ó has discouraged that plan of attack.
The name eventually chosen will go on all sales and marketing materials, billings and trucks that will part of the new cable system’s fleet.
Crowell thinks the city will have its name in about two weeks. For now, the choices have been narrowed to three names, which might go to focus groups for more input before a final decision is made.
I can’t help but offer some ideas. The city of Wilson named its fiber-optic system “Greenlight,” and I’m sure Salisbury has been looking for similar words that suggest concepts such as the future, innovation, worldliness, progress, inclusion, networking and a cutting edge.
I imagine names such as the Edge, Essence, Thread, Achieve, Fusion, Perfect, Scope, Gateway and the like are the kinds that have been taken. They all sound like credit cards or phone plans.
And one problem with “fiber” is that it sounds like something you need in your diet to keep you regular.
The city may have to resort to an acronym.
I’ve thought of several:
– SOFA, standing for Salisbury’s Optic Fiber is Awesome. The tagline: We lay down cable so you can be a couch potato.”
– SOFIE, meaning Salisbury Optic Fiber Is Extreme. The tagline: “Make SOFIE your choice.”
– FOCAL, which could mean Fiber Optic Cable Accelerates Life, Learning, Living (take your pick). The tagline: Locals dig FOCAL.
– FOCAL also could stand for Fiber Optic Cable Amuses Leprechauns. That’s just something I’m throwing in there for our Irish readers.
– FOCUS, meaning Fiber Optic Cable Unites (or Underscores) Salisbury. The tagline: Bring life into FOCUS.”
– FIASCO. This is one for all the taxpayers who are skeptical about the city’s taking on this $30 million-plus enterprise. County residents who have fought the city on annexation also might like this name, standing for “Fiber Is All Salisbury Can Offer” me.
I’m sure all these nominations will be helpful.
In coming weeks, the city will be purchasing and outfitting a marketing trailer, which it can send into neighborhoods and to community events to explain the new cable utility and get people excited about what’s around the bend. The trailer will be plastered, of course, with the system’s chosen name.
I still like SOFA, because isn’t Salisbury the county seat?