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More details emerge about Fibrant-Hotwire deal

By Jessica Coates
jessica.coates@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — In a news release sent out by the City of Salisbury on Thursday, more details about the deal that could allow Hotwire Communications to lease Fibrant were revealed.

According to the release, if an agreement is reached between the city and the company — and if citizens vote to allow the deal to proceed at the May 8 referendum — the deal would become effective July 1.

The city entered into preliminary negotiations with Hotwire Communications in spring 2017 after a group of Salisbury business leaders and a consulting group the city hired — DC-based CTC Technology & Energy — helped it choose from 14 applicants.

The 14 applicants responded to a request for proposals (RFP) the city issued Jan. 24, 2017. The RFP said the city was interested in a “third-party provider arrangement that would enhance Fibrant’s service to the community and indicated the city’s flexibility to consider various types of proposals.”

Some of the applicant’s proposals included a possible sale of Fibrant, a lease of Fibrant’s assets, a management contract and a “public-private” partnership involving Fibrant’s assets.

Hotwire has proposed that it lease the Fibrant system on a “long-term” basis.

“Fibrant and its operation have been delicate subjects in our community for a number of years, understandably so,” said City Manager Lane Bailey in the release. “Improving the fiscal success of Fibrant is important to the financial well-being of the city, and we believe entering into this lease agreement would be a step in the right direction. We are optimistic that a long-term lease agreement between the city and Hotwire will move forward after the referendum votes are tallied, freeing funds to complete other city projects.”

A lease of the Fibrant system to Hotwire would require the city’s tax-exempt financing to be converted, at least partially, to a taxable financing. Bailey said he has been in touch with the state treasurer’s office about how that change could affect the city.

Hotwire Communications is a privately owned all-fiber service provider that has been providing fiber-based telecommunication services since 2000.

It was rated Nation’s Fastest Internet Service Provider (ISP) of 2017 by PC Magazine and was ranked the No. 1 fastest ISP by Netflix in October 2017.

Hotwire is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has regional offices in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Philadelphia.

To read the entire news release, visit salisburync.gov.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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