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By Mark Wineka
Salisbury post
Put Bryan Wymbs under the “for it” column.
Wymbs, a Mitchell Avenue resident, spoke strongly Tuesday for the city of Salisbury’s plans to get into the fiber-optic cable business.
While the city can play an important role in getting the “last mile” of needed bandwidth to homes, Wymbs said, fiber-optic cable can do many things for the community’s business, medical and education fields, too.
Wymbs was the lone speaker at a public hearing Salisbury City Council held Tuesday on the $30 million venture that the city and its consultants have been studying for more than two years.
Two bond issues of about $15 million each ó one this year and one the next ó would be used to put Salisbury into the cable business and offer the triple play of services: video, telephone and Internet.
The new utility would require about a dozen employees and a 10,000-square-foot operations center, not to mention the miles of cable that would be attached to utility poles or run underground.
Fiber-optic cable run to homes and businesses would significantly increase capacity and speed for consumers, most of whom are now served by copper cable.
The advantages would be especially important in the uploading or upstreaming of information, proponents say.
City leaders also tout how “local determination” would go into the cable system and its future upgrades and how it could be used to give Salisbury a competitive advantage in attracting tech-hungry young adults and businesses.
The city of Wilson is about a year ahead of Salisbury in going into the fiber-optic business. Wilson hopes to start serving its initial customers later this year.
Salisbury officials have projected that its fiber-optic system would be a self-supporting utility that could be making money by the end of its third year. They also have emphasized that city tax dollars would not pay for the system, including the funds that would be needed to pay off the bonds over 15 years.
Before council moved to a final vote that would make the project a reality, Councilman Bill Burgin said he wanted to take a field trip and see a municipal fiber-optic system in action.
“I’d like to see it be a day we could all go,” Mayor Susan Kluttz added.
Neil Shaw, an Uptown Services consultant, recommended Wilson as a possible destination. He said that city is going through a whirlwind of activity connected to its fiber-optic system.
“You’re leaping forward every day,” he said.
He said it would be the kind of field trip that would be “very, very valuable.”
Uptown Services also has served as Wilson’s consultants.
Some fiber-optic cities in eastern Tennessee also would be an option, according to Shaw. Council members left it up to the consultants and City Clerk Myra Heard to arrange a day for a fiber-optic field trip.
“I just need to have some hands-on here,” Burgin said.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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