An FTTP Public–Private Partnership in Salisbury, North Carolina

Tom Asp, Principal Engineer and Analyst
Michael O’Halloran, Staff Analyst
CTC Technology & Energy

CTC congratulates the city of Salisbury, North Carolina, and Hotwire Communications on their successful negotiation of a lease of Salisbury’s fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network, known as Fibrant. This agreement is yet another example of a public–private partnership offering a “win-win” approach to broadband in America. The final agreement enables the City to maintain ownership of the fiber assets, while Hotwire will assume operations and maintenance of the network.

Like many municipal governments that have deployed FTTP, Salisbury “invested in building Fibrant as a municipal utility to encourage economic development, increase competitive opportunities for … existing businesses and provide citizens globally competitive access” to state-of-the-art broadband, according to the City.

However, faced with significant competition from ever-larger national players (the result of merger and acquisition activity in the industry), Fibrant found itself struggling. In January 2017, the City released and heavily promoted a formal request for proposals (RFP) to convey its interest in entering into a contractual arrangement with a third-party provider. Its goal was to enhance the operations, sales, marketing, and delivery of Gigabit-class broadband service to the community.

The RFP asked respondents to articulate their proposed business models; describe their technical, transitional, and operational capabilities; affirm Fibrant’s goals; and present details on their proposed financing, funding, and payments.

After extensive consultation with the City’s advisory committee and CTC, the City Council selected Hotwire’s proposal as the most promising option. Negotiations began in September 2017 and were finalized in March 2018. This week, voters approved the deal.

The Hotwire lease will generate a positive revenue stream for the City that will reduce its required draw from the general fund. The agreement also:

  • Brings Hotwire’s scale and expertise to the City
  • Offers enhanced services to Salisbury residents and businesses
  • Maintains Fibrant’s network performance and customer service standards
  • Upgrades Fibrant’s existing electronics and delivery platform
  • Lets the City avoid an estimated $5 million equipment refresh that will be required in the next five to seven years

Read more about Salisbury, Fibrant, and the lease negotiation process here.

Published: Friday, May 11, 2018 by CTC Technology & Energy