500 customers waiting for Fibrant-to-Hotwire transition

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 8, 2019

SALISBURY — Representatives of Hotwire Communications on Thursday gave presentations about the company’s services, answered questions and provided time to meet with customers one-on-one to discuss billing, new services and concerns about the transition from the city-operated Fibrant broadband system.

In October, Fibrant’s management was taken over by Hotwire after voters approved the move in a referendum. So far, Hotwire has transitioned 75 percent of its customers to the new service.

Mike Grandizio, Hotwire general manager, said the remainder are customers who are hesitant about the change. Grandizio said he hopes Hotwire’s information seminars help ease those concerns.

To transition, technicians have to enter the homes of TV customers to set up the service. Despite calls and mailers, he said, Hotwire still has about 500 more customers to transition. Hotwire’s goal is to be completed with the transition by April.

“We really want to get on one system,” Grandizio said.

People at Thursday’s seminar had a range of questions about the TV service. Chris Pagan, a Hotwire account manager, gave a tutorial of its functions, which include the Fision TV Voice Remote that allows users to speak into a Bluetooth remote and give specific commands.

Hotwire will unveil a new version of the remote in April that will be easier to set up and be Bluetooth-ready.

Pagan also showed the capabilities of the TV service, such as a trick play that goes seven seconds back or 30 seconds forward to make watching prerecorded shows easier.

Several customers asked about how much storage the DVR has and how to access information about that through the TV. Pagan said the DVR can record four shows and watching a fifth live show. The TV allows customers to record shows or whole series.

Another concern of a customer was email. With Fibrant, every customer had an email address; Hotwire does not provide an email service. Grandizio said he has gotten a request from the city to begin phasing out the email service. The goal is by mid-May to end email services.

Hotwire will send out mailers and call customers.

Representatives recommended other free email services, including Gmail or MSN, and creating an auto reply to anyone who sends an email to a Fibrant account to email the new address.

A customer asked if Hotwire could send out a how-to guide. Representatives provided a welcome packet and said a guide can be accessed through a customer’s TV.

Grandizio said Hotwire is committed to local customer service, local technicians and local support. The company plans to move downtown and be active in the community, making appearances and sponsoring events like Main Street Conference and the Cheerwine Festival. Hotwire plans to have future education seminars as well. 

Grandizio added that Hotwire representatives are willing to come to homes and teach people how to use the services.

About 50 people attended two Hotwire seminars Thursday, one at 11:30 a.m. and another at 5:30 p.m. Hotwire provided refreshments and donated leftover food to Rowan Helping Ministries. 

Some asked if Hotwire could hold future seminars at homeowner association meetings or in other neighborhoods. Katelin Rice, the community development manager, said anyone interested should contact her at Katelin.rice@hotwirecommunication.com or at 336-870-7655.