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Editorial: First, do the job right

It’s unclear whether Fibrant will ever become the single most important facet of Salisbury’s economic development strategy. Most residents and businesses don’t need Internet speeds of 10 gigabits per second.

The bottom line: Fibrant is top-notch for what it is — a municipal internet service. Cities with fiber-optic networks have varying degrees of success parlaying the system into economic development; there’s more to growth than access to high-speed Internet.

A quick poll of public officials and Salisbury residents would lkely reveal a similar conclusion.

The poll, however, would return with mixed results about how the city built Fibrant. Foremost, respondents might say construction of Fibrant brought a mountain of debt. We’ve also recently learned that Fibrant’s initial construction never, technically, wrapped up.

The city of Salisbury still has an open contract with Atlantic Engineering Group — the firm contracted to build out the Fibrant network. An estimated 2,000 individual attachment points don’t fit the National Electric Safety Code, according to Assistant City Manager John Sofley.

At first glance and with little context, having so many out-of-compliance attachments may seem detrimental to Fibrant.  How will the city pay to repair this mistake? What does this mean for the quality of service?

An article published in Sunday’s Salisbury Post appears to show that the out-of-compliance attachments aren’t actually a huge concern. Salisbury is continuing to work with Atlantic Engineering Group to correct the previous mistakes, minimizing any future repair costs. The attachments have been out of compliance since Fibrant’s inception. So, clearly this issue doesn’t affect the quality of service to residents and businesses. Nor has it shaped up to be an overriding safety concern.

Mostly, the attachment violations are the result of a failure to perform due dilligence. With other companies’ lines out of compliance when Salisbury built Fibrant, fiber optic lines were simply placed on a pole rather than being installed in the correct location, according to Sofley.

More than anything, the compliance violations are a matter of principle. AEG should have done the job right to begin with. There’s not much that can be done now, other than have the company fix the problem.

In the future, city officials should ensure all initial work is done adequately before improvements are made.

Fantastic, Salisbury has 10 gigabit speeds, but did we ever really finish building the network?

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