Comcast expanding fiber-optic infrastructure, internet service in northern outskirts of Houston area | Houston Public Media

Comcast expanding fiber-optic infrastructure, internet service in northern outskirts of Houston area | Houston Public Media


Construction workers install fiber-optic infrastructure for Comcast in Waller County, Texas, in December 2023.

Residents and businesses on the northern outskirts of the Houston region will soon be able to buy high-speed internet service from Comcast, which says it is installing more than 1,000 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure this year in Grimes, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties.

Philadelphia-based Comcast, which is one of multiple cable television and internet providers in the Houston area, announced last week it is investing more than $265 million to bring its Xfinity network to communities such as Cleveland, Conroe, Hempstead, Montgomery, Navasota and Porter. The expansion will reach more than 100,000 potential new residential and commercial customers by the end of this year, Comcast said, including about 20,000 in Conroe, which is roughly 40 miles north of Houston.

“We are expanding our fiber highways (and) strategically investing in areas undergoing significant growth,” Jose Espinel, the regional senior vice president for Comcast Texas, said in a news release. “By establishing the best broadband infrastructure today, we are securing the economic prosperity of these communities for tomorrow.”

Comcast’s broadband expansion figures to be profitable for the company, according to Mark Vena, an executive for the former Compaq Computer Corporation in Houston who now is the CEO and principal analyst for California-based SmartTech Research. He called it a “great update opportunity” for Comcast but also said the company is playing catch-up to some of its competitors in terms of fiber-optic infrastructure, which has become the industry standard.

AT&T, another prominent provider in the Houston area, said it spent more than $1.3 billion in the region between 2020-22 to expand its wireless and wireline network infrastructure. The company also said it plans to reach “an additional several hundred thousand locations over the next several years with the goal to bring fiber to every Houston metro area household.”

One of the smaller companies that provide fiber telecommunications service, Houston-based Ezee Fiber, announced in November it is investing $200 million to expand its network in Fort Bend County to the southwest of the city.

“It’s nice Comcast is finally getting moving on this,” Vena said. “I think they’ve been woefully behind the 8-ball.”

Comcast said its broadband expansion outside Houston is part of a broader $3 billion investment in Texas over the last three years. Statewide, AT&T said it invested nearly $7.6 billion in its fiber-optic infrastructure between 2020-22.

Comcast has been particularly “aggressive” in expanding its network to adjacent or nearby markets where it already provides service, according to Jeff Baumgartner, the senior editor at trade publication “Light Reading.”

“They must have found locations around Houston where it makes sense to extend that network and extend service into new areas, and they need fiber to deliver it,” Baumgartner said. “They tend to do a lot of research into where they’re going to build. There’s something that tells them, ‘It makes sense to build here based on the current level of competition,’ and get a good return on it.”

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