Another Fiber Optic Project in Texas Aims to Connect Residents and Businesses

According to a recent article in Bluebonnet News, the City Council of Dayton, Texas, has approved a $13.7 million bond to operate its own fiber optic system. The city aims to make residents and businesses more self-reliant and less dependent on big cable companies.

Located 15 miles east of Houston, Dayton has a population of nearly 8,000 people. Once the 70 mile fiber network is complete, it will meet the connectivity needs of Dayton's residents and businesses now and well into the foreseeable future.

Slow Start in Texas

Texas is one of 19 states that have laws restricting cities from offering their own telecommunications services to residents. In Texas, state laws prevent municipal networks from offering voice and video services, but they can still provide Internet access to households. Mont Belvieu became the first city in the state to deploy its own citywide fiber network, after successful court rulings clarified the city's authority to offer broadband access. Since the city of Mont Belvieu created its high-quality fiber optic network, MB Link, it has connected about half of its residents and has inspired other rural areas and towns in the country. Dayton, Texas, is one of those communities which shares Mont Belvieu's vision, as per the article from Bluebonnet News:

Like Mont Belvieu, the City of Dayton will provide the Internet service as another utility, like water and sewer service. Theo Melancon, City Manager, believes the cost of the service will be more affordable for Dayton residents and businesses.

Dayton Dreams of Speed

Dayton TX water tower

Residents of Dayton are currently relying on DSL and cable service from large telcos, like AT&T, Frontier, and Comcast. Most of Dayton is served by monopoloy providers — only about 5 percent of residents have more than one choice for broadband access.

Theo Melancon, City Manager of Dayton, feels positive that the project will serve 98 percent of utility customers with speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second for $80 a month. He told Bluebonnet News:

Right now, we are very confident that customers will have at least 800 [Megabits] per second of download and upload speeds at any given time . . . In the midst of all the chaos that is going on in the investment world, we received a very competitive bid. We are at a whole percentage point lower than where we thought we would be.

According to Melancon, there was more than one hand in getting the lower interest rate for the bond. One is the Finance Director and Assistant City Manager Rudy Zepeda, and the other is support from the investment market itself. Melancon said, "They believe in our business plan and our financial management. They have said as much in emails to us. S&P told our financial advisers they are so proud of what the city has done over the last 10 years."

Meanwhile, the city is hiring Magellan Advisors to manage the build-out process and deploy the infrastructure within 18 months. Once the project is complete, the residents of Dayton will soon experience all the possibilities that high-quality Internet access can bring into their lives.

Image Credit: Patrick Feller via Flickr under Creative Commons license 2.0