New internet provider to bring fiber network to the Duke City

Jul. 20—A new-to-the-market internet service provider says it is ready to reach into even the most underserved parts of Albuquerque through a new licensing agreement with the city.

Texas-based Vexus Fiber is venturing into New Mexico’s largest city this year with plans to spend $250 million on fiber-optic infrastructure for what officials call the city’s first “fiber-to-the-home” network.

Albuquerque leaders this week announced the new license agreement that will make Vexus the fourth company to provide home internet service in Albuquerque, one with plans to provide coverage throughout the 188-square-mile city.

“One of the tenets of our agreement with the city is that we’re going to build the entire city,” Vexus President and CEO Jim Gleason said in an interview Tuesday.

While there is some fiber around Albuquerque already, the city government’s broadband program manager said it is not readily available to residential customers.

“It is either used for transport services or for certain businesses,” broadband program manager Catherine Nicolaou said. “We do not have a fiber-to-the-home network in Albuquerque.”

Nicolaou said 2020 numbers show that a quarter of people in Albuquerque lack access to broadband internet. She could not identify which specific areas of Albuquerque are considered underserved nor where residents do not have any options, but she said there is an assessment of the conditions underway now.

“There’s definitely a need” for more service, Nicolaou said.

Vexus plans to start building its network north of Downtown in September, according to the city, and customers in that area should have access about three to four months later. Completing the entire citywide network is expected to take about three years. The project will create about 300 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs, the city said in a news release.

Vexus has not received or sought any economic development incentives, though Gleason said it would likely explore its options.

The company will pay the city for using its right-of-way and, eventually, 3% of gross revenue, Nicolaou said.

Gleason said the company — which grew from the 2019 acquisition of West Texas-based NTS Communications — specializes in medium-sized cities. Albuquerque will be its biggest market, though he said it is comparable in size to the Rio Grande Valley region of southern Texas, where Vexus is already working with multiple municipalities. He said Albuquerque made geographic sense as an expansion market for the company, but that the limited broadband competition and the city’s economy also made it appealing.

“We think there’s a lot of positive momentum in Albuquerque today,” he said.

Vexus’ starter package for 150 Mbps service generally runs $49.99, Gleason said, though the company offers an introductory rate of $39.99 for the first year.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the economic impact that Vexus Fiber will bring to our city, not only from construction, but also for the industries that benefit from fiber and technology startups,” city Economic Development Director Charles Ashely III said in a statement. “We know that by investing in broadband now, we will have a positive impact on the lives of future generations of New Mexicans.”

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