Salisbury, a city of around 34,000 residents located along the I-85 corridor between Charlotte and Greensboro, announced today that it has become “America’s first 10 gigabit city,” as it turns on the city-owned “Fibrant” network running tech developed by a company called Calix.
The city spent five years building its network and has been selling gigabit broadband access since 2014. But it now claims that the Fibrant system will deliver speeds of up to 10Gbps.
The first folks in Salisbury to get the higher-speed service will be at small Catawba College, a liberal arts college with around 1,200 students. The school’s Hoke Hall, which houses Catawba’s IT center, will debut Fibrant, with other campus buildings set to receive the necessary infrastructure improvements in the future.
“Broadband services are essential to our daily operations and the quality of the educational experience our students receive,” said Joanna L. Jasper, chief information officer at Catawba College. “By moving to Fibrant’s 10 Gbps speeds, the College is in a better position to differentiate itself. We can bring world-class broadband services to our campus community to support the next generation of educational applications.”
For now, Fibrant will use point-to-point ethernet to directly connect Fibrant users, but the plan is to use next generation tech, like the NG-PON2 setup that Verizon says could someday provide speeds anywhere from 40-80Gbps.
Verizon isn’t the only major ISP in the race for next-gen super-fast broadband. Comcast has already begun deploying 2Gbps fiber service in a few markets (though it’s not cheap), while simultaneously beginning tests on DOCSIS 3.1 technology that could allow the company to deliver up to 10Gbps over existing cable lines.
As DSLreport’s Karl Bode points out, no one currently needs 10Gbps broadband, but North Carolina is full of high-tech research firms and networks capable of providing tons of data that quickly may attract businesses to the Salisbury area that want to take advantage of the high-speed connection.
One thing that Fibrant may not be able to do is sell high-speed service outside of its home county. a 2011 state law, heavily backed by Time Warner Cable, forbids municipal Internet providers from selling service to municipalities in other counties that may be in need. The city of Wilson, which has its own muni broadband service, successfully petitioned the FCC to void this law, but the state has filed suit to overturn the FCC’s decision.