May 20, 2004 Thursday


The Dallas Morning News

From Lexis Nexis

By summer's end, some North Texas residents and businesses will have plenty of access to fiber optics.

Verizon Communications Inc. formally announced Wednesday that Keller is the first of eight Texas towns that will have a high-speed fiber-optic network.

The company has invested $15 million into the Fort Worth suburb, which will have voice and data capabilities by summer and may have video services within 18 months.

"We are starting to bring broadband to the masses," said Steve Banta, Verizon's southwest region president. "Verizon is committed to fiber, and the time is ripe to offer fiber-based services."

The technology, known as fiber to the premises, or FTTP, can offer faster Internet connections, television and other services to compete with cable companies, many of which are beginning to offer telephone service.

It uses fiber-optic cable and optical electronics to directly link homes and businesses to Verizon's network. Once the network is deployed, its slowest broadband connection will be three times as fast as broadband speeds commonly available today.

Some of Verizon's new products — which include voice, data and video — will feature download speeds of 5, 15 and 30 megabits per second, said Bob Ingalls, president of Verizon's retail marketing group.

"These services will be provided at a substantial value over anything that's in the market today," Mr. Ingalls said. "We know what our competitors are charging. The prices will be comparable."

The company has hired 50 employees for a new Dallas national technical support center for fiber optic customers. Verizon plans to add a couple hundred more jobs as the company expands its FTTP deployment, company spokesman Bill Kula said.

More than 442,000 feet of fiber-optic cable has already been laid in the ground or placed on telephone poles in Keller. About 1.2 million feet total will replace traditional copper wire links in the city.

Verizon chose Keller because of its demographics, geography and technological capabilities, Mr. Banta said.

"We are heavily residential, but our commercial and retail base is growing," said Lyle Dresher, Keller's city manager. "Fiber-based services gives us that competitive edge."