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Broadband director says Google Fiber is not competition

By Amanda Raymond
amanda.raymond@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Google Fiber is bringing its fiber optic network to Charlotte, and Kent Winrich said it’s a good thing for the region.

Google Fiber started signups for the Highland Creek neighborhood in Charlotte for its high-speed fiber optic network. It is offering two Internet-only plans: 100 megabits per second for $50 a month and 1 gigabit per second for $70 a month.

Comparatively, Fibrant, Salisbury’s fiber optic network, offers 100 mbps at $85 a month and 1 gbps at $105 a month. Its 10 gbps service costs $400 a month.

Winrich, director of Broadband and Infrastructure Services for Salisbury, said Google Fiber moving into Charlotte makes the whole region more competitive.

“If a company like Google is interested in multiple markets within one state, that says a lot for the state and the region,” he said.

Winrich said Salisbury partners with surrounding broadband networks to share ideas and collaborate. The real competition is other regions like Silicon Valley.

“That’s our competition. Our competition is not Charlotte,” he said.

Google Fiber has a different business model than Fibrant does. Winrich said Google Fiber’s focus is selling its services to residential areas and small businesses. It will take about four to five years for the company to cover the whole city.

Fibrant also targets residents and small businesses, but it also sells services to larger corporations. The Rowan County Board of Commissioners recently approved a Fibrant extension to service Agility Fuels Systems and Gildan Yarns.

Google Fiber is able to offer lower prices because the company collects and sells browser data, something Winrich said Fibrant does not and will never do.

Winrich said they are working on providing data more efficiently and lowering prices. Changes in pricing must be approved by the Salisbury City Council.

“We think our prices are pretty much in line (with national prices),” he said.

According to Broadband Now’s website, Verizon Fios, the largest fiber optic provider in the country, offers 50 mbps for a regular rate of $79.99 a month and 500 mbps for a regular rate of $299.99 a month.

Winrich said Google Fiber moving into Charlotte brings attention to the whole area, and ultimately that is a good thing.

“The more it brings attention to this region, it benefits everybody,” he said.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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