Steve Mensing, Editor
♦ We’ve been watching the city of Salisbury’s death warrant called Fibrant since it was ramrodded through city council with little public input. We watched city claim Fibrant was a success when it was padding its stats with city employees and later when it claimed it “turned the corner” and made a small profit in the “City of Make Believe”. All of these false claims were made when Fibrant was losing millions of dollars and wolfing down $7.6 million dollars from the water and sewer funds.
We reported how Fibrant was being juked into buying recycled equipment and had no backup (redundancy) when they went down for several days at a time. We observed how Fibrant decimated the ranks of city employees often with wrongful terminations and greatly reduced city services, turning many parts of the city into the “Land that Time Forgot” with weeds and railroad Locust trees overgrowing no parking signs. Trash pickups, road repair, and police patrol vehicles were virtually unseen in many communities in the Salisbury. The Fibrant bred disaster was landing hard with both heels on Salisbury’s scrawny neck.
Okay, why has the Fibrant Debacle hit a customer sales wall? The basics of why the Fibrant Debacle can’t add customers and why it is very likely to lose more customers in 2017:
• The City of Salisbury is a saturated market with 2 of the most deep pocketed internet and TV providers in the United States: TWC is now becoming Spectrum and AT&T U-verse/AT&T Gigaverse divvy up Salisbury. They provide plenty of high-speed internet. Spectrum will undersell every provider in the city in both residential and business class. They will absolutely crush puny aging Fibrant (Their 7th anniversary arrives in later 2017). Much of Fibrant’s key equipment is aged out and it will have to be replaced. There are reasons why Fibrant internet is somewhat unstable, why the their costly phone service goes down, and their pricey TV has its share of challenges.
• Salisbury stared the Fibrant Debacle in the face since day one. Within the city limits dwell 27.2% of the population who live below the poverty line and simply can’t afford Fibrant services or desire to have their water turned off if they can’t pay for Fibrant that month. There are an army of older folks who lived on fixed incomes and can’t imagine tossing money after Fibrant. Not much customer base among our poorer residents. On the bright side some of our poorer residents with children on the school lunch program will be able to obtain 3o mbps internet at $14.95 from Spectrum.
• A very large amount of older folks own no home computers–they won’t be buying Fibrant. If they need internet they go to the local public library or a FREE WIFI spot. They won’t be blowing any of their money on Fibrant subscriptions in this lifetime. There’s also quite a few oldsters who don’t want to use computers period.
• Lots of younger people don’t own home computers, but rely on smart phones or tote their laptops and tablets to a coffee spot or fast food joint with FREE WIFI. One thing can be said about Salisbury it has plenty of FREE WIFI.
• Fibrant can’t afford topnotch marketing. Fibrant’s name brings up a blizzard of negatives for most people. TWC’s marketing will morph into Spectrum as they takeover. Spectrum is a known award winning marketing juggernaut. Fibrant’s absent without leave “marketing” will have its face ground into the pavement by Spectrum. You will see a blitzkrieg of Spectrum ads in your mailbox, TV, newspaper circulars, and on the internet. Their ads are fun to watch. The best ad agencies in Charlotte could not lick the boots of the Madison Avenue giants that Spectrum employs. Strike 4!
• If Fibrant gets tricked into lowing their prices to try to match Spectrum’s bargains, Fibrant’s revenues, from their limited customer base, will go down and they will go deeper in the red.
• Diminishing spendable income in Salisbury. Middle class/working class/upper class/and our educated young are selling their homes or leaving their rentals and leaving Salisbury for far safer areas, superior public schools, places with viable city services, lower taxes and fees, and better paying jobs. People, who might’ve afforded Fibrant, are disappearing from the landscape.
Why No Private Broadband Company is Ever Likely to Buy the 10 Gig Albatross:
• The broadband market is Salisbury is completely saturated with Spectrum residential and business class as well as AT&T U-Verse and Gigaverse. These are giant deep pocketed companies and no feeble mom n’ pop private broadband would want to tangle with them.
• Going out to Rowan County is a bad move because Spectrum and AT&T U-verse/Gigaverse are out there as well as Windstream and Windstream’s One Gig is in China Grove. The Rowan market is completely Saturated.
• A lot of poor folks (18% in the county live below the poverty line) and many seniors, on fixed incomes, lack computers in their home. Many young people, using cellphones and tablets, use FREE WIFI. These folks won’t be buying Fibrant.
• None of the major private Broadband companies (Spectrum and AT&T) would consider buying the Fibrant Debacle. Why? They have laid and strung more fiber optic around Salisbury and have newer equipment than deadbeat Fibrant.
• Diminishing spendable income in Salisbury. Middle class/working class/upper class/and our educated young are unloading their homes and leaving Salisbury for far safer areas, superior public schools, places with viable city services, lower taxes and fees, and better paying jobs. People, who might’ve afforded Fibrant, are disappearing from the landscape.
• No mom n’ pop private broadband is going to want to get shellacked by the monsters of marketing that Spectrum has at its command or what AT&T has to offer.
• What if Salisbury goes belly up from their growing financial crisis and the LGC swoops down to manage the skeletal remains? Shades of Stockton and Detroit? Watch the vacant and abandoned houses grow as its population disperses.
• Surely someone sent down to kick Fibrant’s tires for a mom n’ pop private broadband company will learn Fibrant never made any profit in over 6 years. That’s a killer.