Haywood County recently dropped a lawsuit against Wynncom, after the telecommunications company agreed to hand over its fiberoptic network to the county for $6,500.
Wynncom, based in Lexington, N.C., was hired to build a fiberoptic line for Haywood and be the county’s telecommunications service provider, but the county grew dissatisfied with the company after problems arose with the telephone system it provided.
“They never did perform up to what was expected,” said Commissioner Bill Upton.
The fiberoptic line is an important backbone for communications across county offices, as well as Town of Waynesville buildings. Wynncom was supposed to deliver a phone system with extras like 4-digit extension dialing and voiceover Internet protocol. The county had to go with another telecommunications company to receive those services.
Kristy Wood, director of information technology for Haywood, described fiber as a pipe that high-speed Internet goes through. It allows the county to share data across departments, connect with state and national databases and reduce phone and Internet expenses.
As it stands, the fiberoptic network runs from the regional High Tech Center at Haywood Community College through Waynesville to West Waynesville. The county hopes to someday link up with nearby lines, ending the “doughnut hole” in fiber that’s developed in the county.
“We have fiber all around us,” said Wood. “We just need to be sort of the net in the middle that connects us all together.”
Mark Clasby, director of the Haywood County Economic Development Commission, supports extending the fiber line to connect with two nearby networks: one that runs west and goes down to Atlanta, and another in Asheville that connects to Atlanta, Greenville, S.C. and Washington, D.C.
Having both options would be useful. If there’s a break in one line, Haywood could easily utilize the other.
Clasby said it would be especially beneficial for hospitals and school systems to connect to a long-distance fiber network.
For example, a doctor at a hospital in Haywood County could instantly receive large files chock full of vital medical information and give a well-informed opinion much more quickly to an ailing patient.
In the next few years, school systems here will see the benefit of a $28.2 million federal stimulus grant recently awarded to expand broadband to schools in underserved areas, including 37 counties in Southeastern and Western North Carolina.
For now, the county is close to realizing the potential for video conferences between various departments and even video arraignments before a judge so prisoners do not have to be transported to the courthouse.