Cheap Wireless Network Pays Off for Asheville

Author: Colin Wood
Coverage Type: reporting
Asheville, NC, United States

Asheville (NC) saved millions of dollars and also supported a local business last fall when the city’s IT department opted to build a city-owned wireless network to connect public safety buildings.

Asheville was using a fiber network as a condition of a cable franchise to connect 22 administrative buildings, fire stations and police substations, but the North Carolina Video Service Competition Act of 2006 gave the cable TV providers the power to negotiate statewide contacts, taking local government out of the plan. The new annual price for the city’s fiber service was $450,000. This put the city in a tough spot, said Jonathan Feldman, Asheville’s IT services director. Asheville’s station alerting, which was previously connected by fiber, had resulted in a threefold improvement in cardiac emergency survival rates and a 20 percent improvement in structure fire response rates. The city didn't want to pay the new hefty fee for service, Feldman said, but the new system was saving lives and the city couldn't give it up. That’s when the city found a $20,000 solution to a million dollar problem.



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