UPDATE - 23 March 2022
As Mayor, I attended a major meeting on Monday about broadband access in Western Carolina. The meeting was coordinated by Senator Kevin Corbin and Representative Karl Gillespie. Leader of the NC Broadband Program discussed the large amount of funds now available for broadband service to underserved communities throughout the state. A billion dollars is now available for the entire state. The goal is to have every community connected by 2025. Realistically, I believe the entire process may take longer. Nevertheless, this program will have a tremendous impact for Western Carolina. The federal and state money will be directed to building fiber networks. The federal government views fiber as the preferred system over wireless and satellite systems.
In Highlands we have been working to build a fiber optic network for seven years. Hotwire Communications will operate the fiber optic network. Funds from the lease will pay the construction costs for the network in about 12 years. The town will very shortly received more yearly revenue from the lease agreement than the yearly bank finance note for building the network. Excess funds can be used to transform the town into a Smart Digital City. Using the fiber network, the town will be able to efficiently manage the utility system.
UPDATE - 4 JANUARY 2022
Hotwire is in the process of setting up their operations in Highlands. They will be installing their equipment in the head in building, aka the old town bathrooms. Look for advertisements in local media as to how to sign up for their service. The town will not be selling nor providing broadband to residents and businesses. Altitude Broad Band, which was operated by the town, is now a part of Hotwire. Altitude customers will be transitioned to the new Hotwire platform in the coming weeks, or customers can change a provider of their choice.
The Smart Cities Fiber Network initiative was started about seven years ago because of frustration with existing service and the dim future prospect of improvement. It’s been a long journey building a smart grid and securing a company to lease the dark fiber and provide high speeds to customers.
The town invested about five million dollars in developing and building the network and opted for an active network with a dedicated fiber to each home and business in town. It can accommodate increased demand. Other companies have stepped up their service in Highlands and that competition benefits us all. While the town borrowed money for the construction of the fiber optic network, we will not be providing broadband to customers.
Hotwire will lease the network from the town and offer service options to residents. The network is a world class system that will provide ample broadband speeds for years to come. A fiber network is the state of the art delivery system for broadband and Highlands is one of the few communities in the state that will have a unified broadband network. While intense discussions concerning broad band networks have taken place at the state and national level, underserved communities will have to wait several more years. Highlands will have it now
See and hear Mayor Pat Taylor talk about our new Fiber Network.