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Denton Looks to Fill in Fiber Optic Internet Gaps

Leaders in Denton are considering the option of laying city-owned fiber optic lines to provide better high-speed internet access to citizens.

City Councilman Greg Johnson said he was meeting with staff Monday afternoon on the topic as they looked at their legal options in the matter.

He said as a city utility they could potentially provide internet service to citizens, much like they do trash and electricity, or look into providing the infrastructure at least so companies could get the service to residents and businesses in town.

The topic comes up as concerns have over the current fiber optic offerings in town.

Right now, Verizon offers their FiOS internet service to many locations in Denton, but not all.

Johnson, who also runs Verus Real Estate in the city, said he's come across several properties that show up on Verizon's website as FiOS ready, but when they call the company they find the location is not on the grid.

Desiree Ferguson, who is currently looking for a new building for her small business in town, said it has caused frustration as her current building has FiOS but every bigger space she looks at, some only blocks away, do not.

"Looked at several buildings and really, really like them, and every single one of them, it's not available," said Ferguson.

Verizon spokesman Bob Elek said Monday that the company is currently focusing its funding on projects across the country, but in many of their older fiber optic areas they have no plans to expand their lines. That includes Denton.

The company can offer speeds comparable to FiOS by supplying businesses with multiple T1 lines or other options, but Elek said unfortunately that can often be a bit more expensive.

However, he said plans are being finalized to sell the fiber optic infrastructure in the area to Frontier Communications early next year, and once they take over that company would have the option to expand if they chose. But Elek said that sale has nothing to do with the lack of expansion currently in Denton and several other markets across the United States.

Johnson, displeased with the lack of expansion, brought up the issues last week to the rest of the city council where they decided to start exploring other options to complete Denton's fiber optic network.

"We've got to do something," said Johnson, "The president even said in an article two weeks ago high-speed fiber is no longer a luxury, it's a basic utility."

Several companies in Denton offer other internet options, but Johnson and other business owners in town said fiber optic speeds tend to be much faster and are quickly becoming a "must have" in the business marketplace.

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