By Emily Ford
Creating a municipal fiber optic network was smart, but now the city must market Fibrant and educate users to realize the system’s full potential, a community broadband expert says.
“You have truly 21st century technology,” said Craig Settles, a broadband business strategist from San Francisco who spoke Friday at City Council’s planning retreat. “Do not hide this digital light under a basket. Talk about it and promote it. It will make a difference.”
Fibrant is the city’s fledgling $30 million fiber-to-the-home utility, which was in development for five years. Fibrant has been operating since November and expects to sign up its 500th subscriber this month. The city aims to have 4,400 subscribers in four years.
Salisbury must launch a campaign to win the hearts and minds of residents, Settles said. Some people will always criticize Fibrant, but the city should work to turn most critics into crusaders, he said.
Salisbury must market Fibrant differently to various groups and understand each target audience, he said. Seniors will use Fibrant differently than teens. Home-based businesses will use it differently than corporations.