Anyone who wants to use wireless Internet at the town’s public facilities will find the service to be much faster.
About 20 times faster, to be exact.
Holly Springs recently completed construction of a 13-mile fiber network that loops around the town.
The network now connects the town’s facilities to each other, making Holly Springs’ in-house Internet service about 200 times faster. It also boosts the speed of wireless connections in public places such as the Holly Springs Cultural Center and Womble Park.
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When the town activated the network on June 18, “People told us they could tell the difference immediately,” said Jeff Wilson, Holly Springs’ IT director.
The network also allows the town to introduce wireless service in more public places and to stream high-definition video footage from cameras at baseball fields at Bass Lake Park and Womble Park.
“If you have a child playing baseball and you’re traveling, or you’re a grandparent and you want to see your (grand)child play baseball, you can see that,” Wilson said. “If you can’t be there with your kid, you can pull it up online and watch it.”
Under North Carolina law, Wilson said, the town is not allowed to directly provide Internet service to local businesses and residents.
But Holly Springs plans to lease out its extra fiber, known as “dark” fiber, to third-party providers that serve homes and businesses.
“They can piggyback on our network,” Wilson said.
The network came online as other Triangle towns are working to bring in high-speed Internet service from Google and AT&T. Holly Springs was not included in plans for those networks that could serve homes and businesses.
The town recently entered a 20-year contract with DukeNet, which is owned by Time Warner Cable. The company may run fiber to the Holly Springs Business Park, Wilson said.
The perks of fiber are great, he said, but Holly Springs built the network to save money.
The fiber project cost about $1.5 million, and Wilson said it will take less than 10 years to pay for itself.
Without the network, Holly Springs would have paid Time Warner about $159,000 for data services in the coming fiscal year, Wilson said.
“And we wouldn’t have been able to actually afford as much (data) as we need,” he said. “Our costs were going to be getting out of control over the next couple of years.”