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Wilson to offer one of nation's top Internet speeds

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The city of Wilson, which offers residents its own municipal broadband and cable TV service, said today it plans to offer one of the highest Internet speeds in the nation this summer.

The city's Greenlight Community Broadband service, featuring Internet, phone and cable, will transmit data at 1 Gigabit per second, 10 times faster than the municipal network's current top speed.

The planned upgrade will download data 20 times faster and upload data 200 faster than the top speed available from TimeWarner Cable's Internet service.

Wilson has aggressively promoted Greenlight as a competitive alternative to the cable monopoly, but TimeWarner and others counter that the tax-exempt city government is unfairly competing against businesses and exposing its residents to a potential default in a cutthroat environment.

Greenlight manager Will Aycock said Wilson is upgrading the network to prepare for future demand. Greenlight currently has just eight subscribers at 100 Megabits per second at $154.95 a month. The price for the upgraded service has not been finalized, Aycock said.

Greenlight was launched in 2008 at a cost of $35 million and has 6,300 customers, or about 32 percent of households and businesses in Wilson, a city of 49,000 residents about an hour east of Raleigh.

The 1-Gigabit-per-second speed will be available by July, the city said. Downloading a 6 Gigabit file (2 hour HD movie) would take less than 1 minute on a 1-Gigabit connection, 8 minutes on a 100-Megabit connection, and about 80 minutes on a 10-Megabit connection.

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About the blogger

John Murawski has been a full-time newspaper reporter since 1991, with stints at Legal Times and The Chronicle of Philanthropy (both in Washington, DC), The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Palm Beach Post (in South Florida) before arriving at the N&O in December 2004. At the N&O he covers energy (nuclear, coal, renewable, efficiency), hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking"), public utilities and health care. His beat includes PSNC Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Duke Energy Progress, PowerSecure International, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Biogen Idec and others. He has also contributed more than 30 book reviews on topics spanning botany, history, science and religion. You can reach him at 919-829-8932 or e-mail him.