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Houston Area ISPs Prepping for 10G Internet

The next generation of Internet is being deployed in communities across Houston and nearby rural areas. In Lake Houston, providers such as Tachus and Comcast are already installing equipment to bring 10G to the area.

(TNS) — The next generation of internet is being deployed in communities across Houston and nearby rural communities. In Lake Houston, providers such as Tachus and Comcast are already installing equipment to bring 10G to the area.

The new DOCSIS 4.0 technology will deliver faster broadband speeds at 10 gigabits per second. For comparison, the highest speed Comcast currently offers in Houston is 1.2 gigabits, according to Foti Kallergis, senior director of external communications for Comcast Texas.

Comcast's 10G expansion will begin in Kingwood and reach an estimated 24,000 homes and businesses by the end of the year. The expansion into Kingwood is part of a bigger effort to roll out the technology in Montgomery County by the end of 2023, according to a Comcast press release. Huffman in Harris County will also receive 10G infrastructure, with construction expected to start in early summer and a complete buildout by the first quarter of 2024, Kallergis said.

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For Huffman ISD Superintendent Benny Soileau, whose district has Smartboards in most of the district's academic classrooms, the news is significant.

"That sets my mind rolling thinking of ideas on how we can best use the technology in the classroom without lag," he said.

The 10G infrastructure is a network of cables made of hybrid fiber, a material that delivers faster internet speeds, that may be installed underground or above ground. The network uses a combination optical fiber and coaxial cable technology. The "G" in 10G stands for gigabits—not to be confused with the "G" in 5G, which stands for generation.

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Congress in November 2021 included as much as $65 billion to boost access to the internet and increased speed.

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"The federal government from the infrastructure bill is going to be giving Texas billions of dollars to build out the broadband infrastructure in the state," Kallergis said. "That money is going to be administered through the Texas Broadband Development Office."

The office was created in August 2021 and tasked by the state legislature to secure grants to help underserved communities obtain access to high-speed internet.

To date, the state is seeking $3 billion in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program funding and another $500.5 million in Treasury Capital Projects Funds.

Internet providers like Comcast and Tachus are in the process of installing the technology using their own capital and will apply for those funds when the grants become available.

"We are investing approximately $100 million of our own capital to reach rural communities that makes sense for us to reach right now," Kallergis said.

Kallergis said Comcast has identified rural areas with a larger population and are projected to grow in the coming years.

"Think of it as installing fiber highways—some are above ground, some are below ground," Kallergis said. "In total, we are installing 1,000 miles of it in order to reach those homes."

Kallergis said 80,000 homes and businesses are in the expansion area and will have access to the XFINITY network. They will be able to purchase a plan for their internet, mobile, cable, home service or business services, he said.

According to Kallergis, Comcast is already working on infrastructure to add 10G to 850,000 homes around Houston by the end of the year.

"Southeast Texas' rural and suburban communities have been growing fast, and we are building out our next-generation Comcast network in tandem with the growth," said Ralph Martinez, senior regional vice president of Comcast's Texas Region. "We will continue to expand to even more rural communities in the next few years."

Devices using smart technology, from doorbells and thermostats to televisions and cell phones, may benefit from the faster 10G speeds. However, cell phones still have some catching up to do to be capable of supporting the new 10G technology, said Steve Campion, public relations manager for Comcast Texas.

"WiFi 6E is the next step. We're far ahead of the game and your devices will take time to catch up," Campion said.

Tachus, headquartered in The Woodlands, announced it will begin 10 Gbps network installation projects in Humble, Huffman, and Huntsville in April 2023 with plans to turn on service to the first customers as early as June 2023, according to a press release from the company.

"Tachus is bringing a superior Internet service and honest, transparent customer support to every community we join. We're excited to bring that service to even more residents of our hometown metro area," said Hal Brumfield, founder and CEO of Tachus Fiber Internet.

Tachus has grown by 30,000 new customers in the last four years in the Atascocita, Conroe, Kingwood, Porter, Willis, and The Woodlands communities.

© 2023 the Houston Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.