• 55°

Editorial: Bandwidth bandwagon?

What if the city had decided to invest in a newfangled communication network known as the telegraph back in the 19th century? Or, what if city leaders had decided, decades later, that there was a strong and abiding public interest in ensuring that every household had access to an electric typewriter?
As a fellow once sang, the times, they are achangin’ ó and the technologies of the day are always changing with them.
Such musings arise as the city of Salisbury considers launching a fiber-optic cable system that would cost about $30 million and would, in essence, create a new e-utility supplying homes and businesses with high-speed, high-capacity access to cyberspace, as well as offering new options for telephone and cable TV service. For the city, a fiber-optic-to-the-home system offers the possibility of linking two goals: Giving computer users better connectivity through greater bandwidth and offering a cyber selling point to attract more young, wired professionals to Salisbury.
No one can predict which technologies will endure (think safety pin) or which will go the way of the cassette tape, which is why venture capitalists need iron stomachs and titanium nerves. As Salisbury contemplates its fiber-optic future, less venturesome taxpayers, inevitably, will ask one question: How much is it going to cost me ó worst-case scenario? Based on initial feasibility studies, city officials believe the system could be launched using bond issues that system revenues would pay back and even show a profit within three years. Although the customer base isn’t large enough for a private company to install fiber optic lines to local homes and businesses, city officials are convinced that the business and residential market will soon be there and that it’s to the city’s advantage to tap into it now.
Salisbury is hardly alone in jumping onto the bandwidth bandwagon. Wilson is about to launch a fiber optic system, while some other N.C. cities have tapped into fiber optics in a smaller way by taking over existing networks. Back at the turn of the millennium, the state legislature also endorsed the idea that high-speed access is an important growth and development tool by creating the Rural Internet Access Authority (now the e-NC Authority) to help expand high-speed access into underserved areas.
Obviously, the Internet isn’t a passing fad, and high-speed access is fast becoming a necessity for even medium-duty online users. Still, it’s worth noting that only one resident showed up at a Tuesday hearing to cheer on this endeavor, although Councilman Paul Woodson said another local businessman had enthusiastically endorsed it. Granted, it’s the opposition that usually packs the house or fires off angry e-mails, not supporters. One public hearing isn’t a reliable gauge of community interest. And it may be that many residents simply aren’t familiar with the advantages of fiber optics, or the enhanced connectivity they offer.
In that case, the city may need to use some old-style communication strategies to whip up interest in this brave new frontier. While there’s a persuasive argument that the city has an interest in providing this 21st century infrastructure to its citizens, it needs to make sure the market is there ó or will be in the near future. Meanwhile, anybody want to buy some typewriters?

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day

Business

Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham

Coronavirus

RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates

Nation/World

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

News

Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him

Nation/World

Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges