City has eyes on speedy Internet – Denton Record Chronicle

Denton officials are in talks with Charter Communications and other service providers to expand high-speed Internet downtown and throughout the city.

Aimee Bissett, director of the city’s department of development services, said she doesn’t know when something specific, such as a contract with a provider, would be signed but that talks are ongoing.

“This is looking at the fact that we have a need, especially downtown, and generally in our city, and how the city can help facilitate a solution,” Bissett said. “We’re trying to be proactive and seek solutions.”

The talks come after a City Council discussion in late July to see whether the city would add high-speed Internet as a public utility. The need came into sharper focus after council member and business owner Greg Johnson talked about buying a new building downtown, but he was unable to transfer his Internet service with Verizon FiOS from the old office to the new.

Now, Johnson’s company, Verus Real Estate Advisors, will get high-speed access through fiber cables from Charter Communications when they start operating out of the new office Sept. 14. Charter is putting the high-speed fibers on poles, and will provide a dedicated line for just Verus, instead of splitting it with other buildings and businesses.

Since his success in obtaining service, Johnson said he’s been putting people in touch with Charter and talking with their representatives about expanding downtown.

“They are telling me they are aggressively pursuing information from the city and working with the city to try and determine what the demand is downtown,” he said of Charter.

Others downtown aren’t as lucky. At Michael J. Whitten & Associates, a law firm at Pecan and Elm streets, the company was able to switch from dial-up to cable-based Internet through Charter’s business arm, Spectrum Business, said Adam Whitten, an attorney at the firm.

Although the new cables are sufficient for uploading documents and doing research, Whitten said the company would consider upgrading to fiber if it were available.

Brian Anderson, a spokesman for Charter Communications, said the new Verus building at 319 W. Oak St. had Spectrum Business services available. Although he would not comment about the company potentially contracting with the city, he said Charter is expanding its network in Denton and other communities across the country.

“Charter is always working to expand and improve our services where possible,” he said in an email. “We look forward to working with Denton businesses and residents to meet their voice, video and data needs both now and in the future.”

While Bissett said city officials are in talks with other service providers, Verizon spokesman Bob Elek said that to his knowledge, Verizon isn’t one of those companies.

“The truth of the matter is nothing has changed with our position in building out fiber in Texas or anywhere else,” he said. “Our focus is to get people to adopt what’s already there.”

Currently, Verizon’s fiber optic service, FiOS, has a large network in downtown Denton but does not serve every building. Business owners have also reported having issues setting up service with FiOS, even after Verizon’s website told them their address could access the service.

Rob Justice, a Denton resident and an information technology professional, said that by talking to a lot of companies, the city can promote itself and grow its connectivity.

“It’s clear that Denton the city and Denton the community value high-speed Internet as a strategic asset, and I think the important thing is there are a lot of conversations happening with all of these providers about the future of Denton,” he said.

Getting better fiber is just one piece of the puzzle, Justice said. He hopes fiber continues to grow, but alongside mobile networks and city wireless access as well, to make Denton a more connected, and therefore more effective, community.

“The more we talk to providers about what’s happening, the more they become interested and it’s a virtuous cycle,” Justice said. “Ultimately, you get this really amazing place where all of these things work together and you forget it was ever a problem.”

 

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via
Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

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