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Fibrant OK to expand

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
RALEIGH — Salisbury once again can sell Fibrant’s telecommunications services throughout Rowan County, thanks to the latest twist in the saga over city-owned broadband networks.
The N.C. Senate Finance Committee gave its blessing today to an amendment to House Bill 129, or “Level Playing Field,” that allows Salisbury to sell Fibrant outside the city limits as long as town aldermen, school board members or the Rowan County Board of Commissioners approve.
Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican who represents Rowan and Davie counties, had planned to ask the committee to restrict Fibrant to the city limits of Salisbury. But he said he had a change of heart this morning after Rowan County Commissioner Jim Sides and Vice Chairman Carl Ford called him and suggested a compromise.
Ford and Sides came up with the amendment, Brock said, which allows Salisbury to offer Fibrant to any town in Rowan County where the town board has approved.
The amendment also says county commissioners must approve Fibrant expansion to any county-owned government building, and the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education must give a nod for any Fibrant service extension into public schools.
“This will give the people a voice,” Brock said after the committee meeting.
Salisbury officials who attended the meeting supported the amendment, which broadens the Fibrant service area from only four towns in an earlier version of the bill — Spencer, East Spencer, Rockwell and Granite Quarry — to all of Rowan County.
The amendment spells out what the city already intended, City Manager David Treme said. Salisbury would have sought interlocal agreements with towns and approval from the school board and county commissioners before extending fiber optic lines, Treme said.
“But if they need it in writing, we are happy to do that,” Mayor Susan Kluttz said.
The Salisbury amendment was one of only two that passed today. Other attempts to expand community broadband service failed.
Read more in Thursday’s Post.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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