Craven County, N.C., Considers Leasing Dark Fiber

Two contracts are being reviewed, both with Clarity Communications about how many strands of fiber to lease, and for how long.

by Jennifer Cannon, Sun Journal, New Bern, N.C. / September 26, 2016

(TNS) -- Clarity Communications, a full-service, facilities-based provider of dedicated transport, high speed internet and collocation services, wants to lease dark fiber in Craven County.

Dark fiber consists of the unused strands of fiber in a fiber optic cable.

The Craven County Board of Commissioners is considering two contracts with Clarity Communications to lease some of the county’s dark fiber.

“One is for the leasing of dark fiber inside of the Industrial Park to provide internet connectivity for a client there,” Dennis Holton, Craven County information technology director, said to commissioners during their regular monthly meeting last Monday. “The second lease, which is outside of Industrial Park, would give them a backbone from New Bern to the ag extension building.”

Holton said the agreement would be the same as the contract the county entered into with Moen.

“The rate is the same, the terms are the same. The lease from here to ag extension is the same rates and the same provisions. They have no ownership in any of this, it is purely a lease agreement for 10 years and the county will not be responsible for providing internet to any of those businesses in the park,” Holton said.

Clarity Communications and Craven County have been in talks for at least the past three years.

“They provide a niche for commercial, industrial and military installations in the east for internet access with high speeds, not residential-type speeds,” Holton said. “The lease for the industrial park will generate about $960 a year, which would go back into the park fund where the commissioners fronted some moneys last year for the Moen project.”

The county is currently using about 30 percent of the 144 strands of fiber in the ground.

After the 10 years, Clarity and Craven County can renew the contract if it’s agreeable to both parties. If they decide not to renew, Clarity has no vested interest in any of the fiber that’s in the park or in the ground.

Commissioner Jason Jones expressed concern about the length of the contract.

“Do you think that this may be a little bit too long, that if it was reduced there may be a better deal financially for the county,” Jones asked.

Holton said it was possible but the contract gives the county the ability to increase the rate by 5 percent every three years.

Commissioner Scott Dacey also was concerned about the logistics of the contract.

“If this contract says they’re paying us $80 a month and I’m paying more than that for my home internet service, that doesn’t seem to be equitable for the taxpayer,” he said.

Clarity currently has a service agreement with New Bern.

“They’re in the (city) building on First Street. We all pass through that location at First Street and they want to lease two fibers from the First Street location, where they bring their main internet pipe into New Bern, to get them back to Industrial Park and then distribute to other businesses inside Industrial Park so as far as outside of the park, they’re not wanting anything other than that link between First Street and Industrial Park, but inside of the park they want to lease four fibers so that they can go to businesses,” Holton said.

The commissioners decided to table the issue for 30 days and have Holton return with an update to respond to the commissioners’ questions and concerns.

©2016 the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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