While Google Fiber and AT&T focus on the large cities of the Research Triangle of North Carolina, the small town of Holly Springs is pursuing a third option.
Holly Springs will be the third town to see Ting’s “crazy fast fiber Internet.” After a successful foray into the U.S. mobile service market, the Toronto-based company Ting has started to provide Internet service by partnering with local governments. Ting will offer 1 Gbps in Holly Springs by building on the town’s $1.5 million municipal fiber network.
Muni network restricted by state law
Holly Springs, with a population of almost 30,000, has worked hard to improve its connectivity. In mid-2014, they completed a 13-mile fiber Institutional network (often called an “I-Net”) to connect the municipal buildings and other public institutions, such as schools and hospitals.
Unfortunately, when business and residents wanted to connect to the network, a North Carolina state law prevented the town from providing Internet services directly. As it became obvious that Google Fiber would not pass through the town, leaders worked with a consulting company to try to draw in a private Internet service provider (ISP).
Ting! Innovative Partnerships
The locked-up potential of that fiber helped attract Ting. The municipal network's unused fiber will function as a backbone for Ting to deploy its own last-mile infrastructure, which will provide connectivity directly to homes and businesses.
Ting has had success with small towns. The first Ting town was Charlottesville, Virginia, where the company bought a local ISP’s existing fiber network, improving the speeds and prices. Most recently, Ting partnered with the city of Westminster, Maryland, to expand broadband access. The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors dubbed it 2015’s “Community Broadband Innovative Partnership of the Year” and presented the partnership with an award in September. Check out our podcast conversations with Dr. Robert Wack from Westminster and Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows (parent company of Ting).
Local networks are the solution
Construction on the Holly Springs network is likely to begin in early 2016. Although not all public private partnerships prove successful, Ting’s approaches support the philosophy that communities should be empowered to make these decisions locally. Noss explained in the press release [PDF]:
The problem of slow, expensive and unreliable Internet access is national but agreements like the one reached with Holly Springs further demonstrate that the solution is local.