Greenlight Service To Pinetops


March 27, 2017 UPDATE

Recently we’ve received many questions from the Wilson community about Greenlight’s expansion into Pinetops and Vick Family Farms. The major concern we hear is why we expanded into those areas before expanding into Wilson County.

Greenlight is a service of the City of Wilson, and is available to every piece of property within the Wilson city limits, as the Wilson City Council directed. Other areas in Wilson County may have service if the area was passed as part of our effort to service Wilson County Schools, Wilson Energy substations, or other key utility assets. The most important consideration is if the broadband infrastructure is needed to deliver advanced meter functions to Wilson Energy customers. As we continue to deploy more smart grid infrastructure to Wilson Energy customers, we expect to be able to offer Greenlight service in those areas.

The Town of Pinetops is a wholesale customer of Wilson Energy and has a relatively large number of customers in a small geographic area. For decades Wilson Energy has provided electric power to the Town of Pinetops, with the infrastructure already in place. We already had a fiber connection to the substation serving Pinetops, so the remaining infrastructure was inexpensive to install. Pinetops officials had asked Greenlight to serve the community for many years. They also conducted a feasibility study – at the town’s expense – in 2010 when officials first requested Greenlight’s broadband deployment. That request was halted after HB 129 was passed.  Their existing internet options were substandard and unreliable and they asked Greenlight for help. The same situation was true for Vick Family Farms, with the facility located very close to existing Greenlight fiber lines.

Greenlight is constrained by state law to where we can serve. We had an opportunity due to federal law challenges, and we made the decision to serve Vick Farms and Pinetops. North Carolina legislators are now considering whether Greenlight will be allowed to continue to serve those customers.

Since Greenlight is a public utility, we are careful in taking on debt to fund expansions. We pay for all expansions from our operating funds, limiting how quickly we can expand to the remaining areas of the county.

We are listening to the comments from the community. We know that many county residents want Greenlight service and we are working diligently to responsibly expand our network to serve them as quickly as possible.

September 16, 2016 UPDATE

We’ve heard from Wilson County residents who want Greenlight service in areas we do not currently serve. Greenlight service is available to every piece of property within the Wilson city limits. Other areas in Wilson County may have service if the area is densely populated or on the same service line needed to connect public schools. Probably the most important consideration is if the broadband infrastructure is needed to deliver advanced meter functions to Wilson Energy customers. As we continue to deploy more smart meters to Wilson Energy customers, we expect to be able to offer Greenlight service in those areas.

Since Greenlight is a public utility, we are careful in taking on debt to fund expansions. We pay for all expansions from our operating funds, limiting how quickly we can expand to the remaining areas of the county.

It’s the ultimate compliment to have so many people requesting Greenlight service. Rest assured we will continue our growth within Wilson County as allowed by state law.

City Manager Grant Goings share our expansion criteria during the August City Council meeting. The Wilson Times also published an excellent recap of his comments: http://www.wilsontimes.com/…/Wilson-honors-Howard-mulls-Gre…

September 15, 2016 UPDATE

During its September 15 meeting, the Wilson City Council voted not to request review of the August 10 decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and to terminate Greenlight’s service agreement with the Town of Pinetops. Before adopting the motion to discontinue service, Council Members expressed their regret that state law prevents Greenlight from serving our neighbors in Pinetops.

The court decision reversed the earlier FCC preemption of state law that allowed Greenlight, among other providers, to expand service. As a result of the action by the court, Greenlight must terminate the service agreement with the Town of Pinetops and cease providing services outside of Wilson County. Included in the Council’s motion was instructions to provide Pinetops Greenlight customers with as much notice as possible of the termination in service.

August 10, 2016 UPDATE

We are disheartened that the Sixth Circuit Appellate Court has ruled against the FCC’s preemption of North Carolina state law that prevented expansion of Greenlight’s fiber infrastructure.

We are currently reviewing specifics of the opinion and its full impact on our ability to continue service in areas such as Pinetops. The purpose of our request for preemption was to allow us to provide broadband infrastructure to all existing utility customers that desired access. No matter the impact on services in Pinetops, the infrastructure will continue to provide its primary purpose of supporting continued smart grid deployments.

Greenlight has operated successfully within the confines of Wilson County for eight years and will continue to do so in the future to support the economic health of our region.

SUMMARY

In December 2015, the Wilson City Council authorized providing Greenlight service to residents of the Town of Pinetops. Wilson and Pinetops have a long history of working together – Wilson Energy has provided electric service to Pinetops since 1972.

Talks between the two communities about adding Greenlight service started in 2010 yet were stopped when the North Carolina General Assembly passed the 2011 legislation limiting Greenlight’s service territory to the Wilson County limits. After the FCC’s ruling in February 2015, talks resumed between the two parties and agreement was reached in December 2015.

The primary motivation for Pinetops to seek Greenlight service is the lack of availability of next generation broadband infrastructure to the residents of Pinetops. Greenlight service is 50 times faster than the service currently available in Pinetops. Reliable, high-speed Internet will encourage economic development and expand Pinetops residents’ connection to the global community.

More than 200 customers began receiving Greenlight service in April 2016.

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In The News

 

Severed connection: Pinetops to lose broadband by Halloween” Wilson Times Sept. 16, 2016

“Municipal ISP forced to shut off fiber to the home internet after court ruling” Ars Technica  Sept. 16, 2016

“Wilson Greenlight forced to disconnect rural gigabit town due to NC anti-competitive law” CLIC Sept. 16, 2016 (includes Pinetops Town Council resolution)

Wilson forced to turn off service to Pinetops” Institute for Self Reliance Sept. 16, 2016

Greenlight likely to disconnect Pinetops” Wilson Times Sept. 14, 2016

Broadband law could force rural residents off information  superhighway” New York Times Aug. 28, 2016

Customers praise Greenlight, pan ruling” Wilson Times Aug. 12, 2016