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City hires new Fibrant director

By David Purtell

david.purtell@salisburypost.com

Salisbury’s city-owned broadband system has a new director with plenty of experience in the world of high-speed Internet.

Kent Winrich is now overseeing Fibrant full time. He previously was with Hibernia Media, a subset of the global telecommunications company Hibernia Networks, where he oversaw the company’s European network.

As the city’s director of broadband and infrastructure services, Winrich will oversee Fibrant, information services technology, traffic operations and facilities maintenance.

Winrich has over 20 years of experience with broadband and said he’s been around the globe working on broadband systems. He said he understands the importance of high-speed Internet in today’s world.

Kent Winrich

Kent Winrich

Winrich was introduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. He was hired just before Thanksgiving after a lengthy search by Interim City Manager John Sofley. His first day was Monday.

Winrich said he’s managed fiber-optic projects that streamed video from several major events, including the Sochi Winter Olympics, the French Open and Wimbledon tennis tournaments, and Super Bowl 46.

He said America is behind the rest of the world when it comes to Internet speed and that Salisbury is lucky to have a fiber-optic system in place.

“I think it’s such a benefit to offer residents and businesses …” he said.

Winrich, 53, said as Internet speeds and broadband capabilities become more and more important to the business community, companies will locate in places that offer the fastest speeds and most amount of bandwidth.

“I think it’s a really good thing that Salisbury invested in this,” he said about Fibrant.

Before Winrich’s hire, Fibrant was being run by the city manager and a consultant, Mike Jury, who owns Georgia-based Altitude Communications. Jury was brought on after Fibrant’s original director, Mike Crowell, left.

Jury said he was thinking about selling his company, but that he and his wife decided not to. The decision means he’ll have to spend more time with Altitude Communications and less time on Fibrant.

In an email, he said he had recommended the city hire someone to manage Fibrant full time due to its recent growth.

The number of Fibrant customers increased from slightly more than 3,000 in July to more than 3,200 in October.

Regarding the hire of Winrich, Jury said. “… he’s a great fit for the team, and his background really lends itself to the future of Fibrant.”

Jury will continue to act as a consultant for the city.

Sofley said Winrich is the right man at the right time for Fibrant.

Winrich told City Council he was very impressed with Fibrant’s staff, who he called highly motivated.

He said Jury has done an excellent job stabilizing Fibrant.

“It’s going to really help in economic development,” Winrich said about Fibrant.

Mayor Paul Woodson told Winrich, “Glad to have you here to take us to the next level.”

Winrich is originally from Wisconsin and earned a broadcasting degree from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.

He’s been in North Carolina for 10 years and currently lives in Greensboro. He was recently married, and said he’ll be commuting until he finds a home in Salisbury.

Contact reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.

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