A Texas-based internet provider plans to invest $250 million to establish a new fiber broadband network in Albuquerque.
Vexus Fiber, which operates in 35 communities in Texas and Louisiana, announced plans to expand into Albuquerque by building a fiber network that brings broadband connectivity to every corner of the city. Vexus president and CEO Jim Gleason told the Journal the full build-out will take about three years, but customers in certain neighborhoods will have access in 2022.
“We’re going to be building a faster network that is able to deliver increased speeds over traditional providers,” Gleason said.
Gleason said Albuquerque is the right size of market for the company, which specializes in providing fiber to mid-sized cities. Operating in such markets allows the company to build a brand and establish a local office that has an impact on the local economy, Gleason added.
“In a town like Albuquerque, that’s more impactful than it is if you’re in a big city,” he said.
Gleason said about three-quarters of the company’s planned $250 million investment in Albuquerque will go directly toward the construction of its fiber network. Gleason said the company plans to run fiber optic cable directly to homes and businesses, near where telephone and power lines connect.
“We’re going to be going in with a fiber line that’s going to go right alongside all of those utilities,” Gleason said.
Vexus expects the build-out to begin next spring after the company inks a right-of-way agreement with the city and begin its design process. Gleason said construction should create around 200 temporary jobs. Additionally, the company plans to establish an office in the city that will host approximately 150 permanent jobs in Albuquerque, including managers, sales and customer care positions.
Dan Serrano, chairman of the ABQ Westside Chamber of Commerce, said he met with leaders from Vexus prior to the announcement and was impressed that the company wasn’t seeking financial incentives to relocated to the city. He said he’s hopeful the company can become an economic catalyst for the city.
“If it brings other (companies) who want to come, that’s great,” Serrano said.
Improving broadband access in New Mexico has been a point of emphasis for legislators in recent years. The industry website BroadbandNow ranked New Mexico 49th in broadband access. While Albuquerque is better connected than rural parts of the state, Gleason said Vexus has reached out to agencies offering rural broadband funds, and will look to expand its network to rural parts of the state once it’s established in Albuquerque.
“We know there is a big push in the United States, but in New Mexico specifically, to reach out to rural areas,” Gleason said.