Video: School System Rejects Fibrant’s Non-Competitive Bid in Favor of TWC. Fibrant Showed Why It Can’t Compete with the Big Boys

Posted on August 27, 2016



RFP Staff

♦ Back on April 11th 2016 Fibrant demonstrated why they can’t compete with private internet providers for business. On April 11th Fibrant finished a distant fourth place out of a field of four internet providers in a bidding process to decide who would get the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s contract for its Wide Area Network internet access. Fibrant was crushed by the other three bidders and in the process showed why that can’t compete with the big boys.

Fibrant has very high-speed internet. But our school systems current needs are for 500 Mbs per school with a maximum 1 Gig. If required TWC and Broadplex can go to 10 gigs with their dedicated ethernet. And TWC and Broadplex are also ready for immediate installation in the schools. Conterra16 would take 6 months for installation. And Fibrant, with only three alleged employees and embroiled in a highly publicized litigation with Atlantic Engineering its first contract installers, would take a full 18 months to run the service to schools. Imagine the public humiliation the school system would have faced, had they taken seriously the City of Salisbury’s slow motion estimate at running Fibrant to the schools. 18 months to rig up the school system?

Check out the monthly and annual costs: Fibrant, holding up the distant rear, came in least cost-effective at a whopping $110,899.08 per month for a 5 year contract compared to Conterra16 at $83,560.00 per month (for a 5 year contract), Broadplex at $41,400.00 per month on the ‘high end’ (a 3 year instead of 5 year commitment) or $38,375.00 per month on the ‘low end’ (for a 5 year contract), and TWC at $34,800.00 per month, for a 3 year contract. While the difference between Fibrant and Conterra16 is almost enough to fund Fibrant’s “break-even” racket and stem the arterial bleeding, Fibrant is not even in the same league with Broadplex or Time-Warner Cable internet pricing and installation.

Comparison of Bids Graphic by RSSS:

The bottom-line numbers were really all the school system needed to see before even getting into the technical issue of fault tolerance which Fibrant also bombed compared to the competition.

The failure of Fibrant to compete amazes many business people. And yet business minds were not part of the Fibrant “build-it-and-they-will-come” scheme. Had competent business persons been involved in the decision-making they would have steered clear of entering the broadband business in the first place.

Fibrant is not remotely poised to capture any significant market share, particularly of the business market, where its grossly overpriced and fails to draw in local small businesses when compared to the real providers who are more aggressive in their marketing. What is Salisbury’s answer? They refinance the Certificates of Participation to save $400,000 per year, and accept the resignation of the fellow they brought in to hopefully turn the tide. The city now saves about that much from salary and benefits as they pass his responsibilities along to a finance person with no supervisory experience. Cutting costs is surely designed to stem the bleeding. And yet, they might’ve landed revenues of over $34,000 per month with the school system, but they consumed all their “seed corn” up front and can’t afford to install what might’ve cut their losses a little more.

With their inability to compete with the real players, how does the City of Salisbury expect to continue this charade? It is the question that many prominent business leaders asked when they gathered at a recent Salisbury Rotary Club meeting.

Call it a mistake? Get rid of all the hidden Fibrant personnel? And start managing a city instead of managing the insurmountable losses being pumped into this failed experiment.

Factoid: RSSS uses less than 500 MB, or 1/2 GB, of bandwidth. According to Access NC (http://accessnc.commerce.state.nc.us/docs/topEmployers/topEmp_37159.pdf), RSSS is the top employer in Rowan County. All public school students are equipped with devices, as are all teachers and administrators. If RSSS only uses one twentieth of the bandwidth that Fibrant can provide, and they need such a small fraction of bandwidth, who needs 10 GB bandwidth in Salisbury?

The new three year contract with Time Warner Cable is $13,000 less per month than the previous contract, averaging $34,800 per month. Fibrant’s bid was for a five year contract, averaging $110,899.08 per month, and was an astronomical $63,099.08 more per month than RSSS was paying TWC at the time of the Board of Education vote on April 11th. The Fibrant bid was $76,099.08 more per month than RSSS will pay TWC during the current 3 year contract.

RSSS Graphic of TWC in the schools:

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