North Texas Daily

Denton’s high-speed Internet plan in the works

Denton’s high-speed Internet plan in the works

Denton’s high-speed Internet plan in the works
April 10
00:14 2014

Nicholas Friedman // Staff Writer

Long gone are the days of buffering YouTube videos and waiting forever for a document to load in a coffee shop. With Wi-Fi Internet becoming a regularly available feature, Texas is not excluded in dabbling with faster connections.

Google Fiber, according to the official website, is a “different kind of Internet” that seeks to bring instant downloads and high-definition video streaming to the masses.

The problem is Google has only begun testing the service. Austin received the service last year and San Antonio is a potential target. Cities with the service offer free basic Internet with additional bandwidth of a gigabit offered for $70 a month.

Google employs an extensive selection process that evaluates potential candidates based on construction needs and availability. There are no plans for Denton as of right now according to the Google Fiber support team.

With no “Fiber,” Denton community members and tech activists have formed in a new citywide initiative known as Connected Denton. The group is looking to bring this kind of high-speed Internet access to Dentonites without waiting for Google.

“We’re not fans of Google Fiber because they bring a tax with them,” Connected Denton advocate Rob Justice said. “We have the fiber we need here. We need to evaluate connectivity. The city owns the electricity company and there’s our conduit.”

Justice said that most of the fiber, a technology that transmits data, in Denton is dark fiber, or unused. The goal is to light up this fiber and give multiple parts of the city high-speed access.

“The city is currently undergoing capital improvements to the Hickory Street corridor which runs from downtown to the multi-modal transit center where the A-train station is located,” city Economic Development Director Aimee Bissett said. “As part of this project we’ve worked with Verizon to install fiber concurrently and we’re working to get Wi-Fi there, the transit station and on the square.”

Bissett said a Wi-Fi channel installation is expected later this year, and that her office has worked with both Charter and Verizon on projects in Denton, but Verizon is most active in the downtown area.

City councilman Kevin Roden said that the resources in Denton are apt to provide this fiber Internet access faster, cheaper and quicker than others.

“It’s crucial that we get ahead,” Roden said. “We’re working with companies like Verizon and Charter to get better connectivity. We‘ve already sat down with Verizon and were able to convince them to work on the square.”

Roden said he hopes Denton will become a place where tech advocates and entrepreneurs can start businesses through Connected Denton.

“Many tech companies and startups now want to move in,” Roden said. “Young workers want to hang out in coffee shops and bars and all they’ve got access to is what Charter offers now. This has to change.”

However, widespread Wi-Fi may not be the best option, associate professor of computer science and engineering Robert Akl said, because infrastructure and maintenance costs may be prohibitive.

“We already have good wireless coverage through cellular,” Akl said. “There is a reason why cellular data is capped. A few network users can constantly stream movies and take up most of the bandwidth. For the same reasons, a citywide Wi-Fi would not be very useful if it is unreliable and some users are streaming large files.”

Low cost is one of the reasons why people are drawn to Google Fiber, Justice said, and part of Connected Denton is working with local providers to bring that cost down. A firm price for Denton connectivity is unavailable at this time, he said.

“Google Fiber doesn’t offer additional speed, they just offer it at a lower cost,” Justice said. “Having that much speed on most computers is like hooking a fire hose up to a garden hose. The hose gets bigger every year, but if Charter or Verizon are able to offer the same thing then Google’s becomes irrelevant.”

But, Roden hopes that city leadership, as well as the technology community, will help push Connected Denton forward with the goal of making Denton the most connected city in America.

“We have to make the case as to why this is important,” Roden said. “To think about Denton and universities and what people can do with the power of the Internet, I say we give them that infrastructure and see what they can do next.”

Feature photo: Aimee Bissett, Denton’s director of economic development, explains the idea of Connected Denton on Tuesday morning. Installing fiber is considered as a big part of this program. Photo by Zixian Chen, Senior Staff Photographer.

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he's had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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