In North Carolina, Salisbury has launched the state's second FTTH network, as communities continue to build the next-generation broadband infrastructure in which their massive incumbent providers decline to invest. We have offered in-depth coverage of Fibrant as they prepared to launch the new services. As of Tuesday, Nov 2, the network softly launched, which is to say they will slowly ramp up the number of paying customers as they gain experience and confidence. Stop the Cap! also covered the launch with extensive coverage as well as both praise and criticism for Fibrant's approach.
Some of the 115 early, free testers of Fibrant became the first paying customers Monday, with the utility scheduling installations for 200 other residents on a waiting list.
A local group has posted a number of videos about Fibrant, including a recent one that compares Fibrant's speeds to the pathetic offering of Time Warner Cable (see bottom of this post). In a totally unrelated development (or so Time Warner Cable would have us believe), TWC has rapidly increased its broadband tiers in the region. In this, TWC has joined Comcast in downplaying the role competition has in forcing incumbent investment. If you believe TWC, competition plays no role in their investment decisions, a fascinating approach to succeeding in an area they constantly claim is a very competitive market.
The cable giant’s new download speed can reach 50 megabits per second, twice as fast as Fibrant’s 25 Mbps. However Time Warner’s fastest upload speed — 5 Mbps — is still slower than Fibrant’s best upload speed of 25 Mbps and standard upload speed of 15 Mbps. Time Warner is more expensive.
Of course, as the video shows, TWC's actual broadband differs significantly from its advertised speeds. I would like to see a speedtest comparing the new TWC offerings -- though I wonder if they have instituted the same trapdoors as providers like Comcast to trick speediest sites into falsely reporting higher speeds than one would every experience in reality. Also, it will be interesting to see if Salisbury has the same experience as Wilson, NC, where TWC stops increasing prices locally while continuing regular rate increases in non-competitive areas nearby. Again, Stop the Cap! was on top of the story and further elaborated on their position in the comments of this story by us. I'm not convinced Fibrant has to immediately change its tiers in response to TWC, but we'll see what they do. I do think all community networks should find ways of marketing an extremely high tier that takes full advantage of the network as a reminder to everyone what it can do even if few take them up on it. As an addendum to communities considering this, take a gander at the vitriol in the forums around the Salisbury Post stories - you will have to deal with trolls of this sort also.