Fort Worth, Texas, Provides Internet Using Blended Approach

The city plans to lease fiber cables from the Zayo Group, as well as use microwave technology to Improve internet speeds for areas that won't be included in the fiber network.

by Sandra Baker, Fort Worth Star-Telegram / November 18, 2015
Photos modified, added together. Flickr/Rick Bollin and Firas

(TNS) -- The City Council on Tuesday night launched Fort Worth’s computer network on a faster path.

The council voted 9-0 to approve an agreement to lease fiber optic cable from the Zayo Group Holdings, a Boulder, Colo.-based global provider of bandwidth infrastructure services, that will serve 63 city facilities with high-speed network capabilities. The locations are expected to be connected within three years.

The fiber doesn’t reach all 200 city facilities, so the city’s technology staff has developed a blended approach and will use microwave technology to improve speeds at the remaining 140 locations, said Kevin Gunn, the city’s chief technology officer.

The microwave technology is still being tested, Gunn said.

Using fiber and microwave technology will save the city about $1.5 million a year in operating costs annually beginning in fiscal 2017. The city will spend $15.6 million to lease the fiber for 13 years from Zayo, a report said. The savings will be invested in other capital improvement projects, Gunn said.

Building its own fiber network would have been too costly, and there was no option to partner with other government groups, Gunn said.

Over the years, the city has patched together services using five different Internet connections to run the city’s operations, including its emergency operations, Gunn said.

“It’s not always an exciting topic to talk about,” Gunn said. But, he said, city facilities provide a broad range of operations that “all have mission critical data and voice communications. The challenges we have is a patchwork of technologies … that has grown organically over time. We lack robust connectivity. It’s not meeting our business needs.”

In addition to improved speeds, the fiber will give the city “ring topology,” or a redundant path, he said. That means if one location goes down, it doesn’t affect other sites. Currently, that’s not the case, he said.

Zayo Group said it has 87,000 miles of fiber network in the U.S. and Europe.

©2015 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.