Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Internet provider builds fiber optic broadband network in ABQ

A Texas-based Internet provider plans to invest $ 250 million in building a new fiber broadband network in Albuquerque.

Jim Gleason, President and CEO of Vexus Fiber. (Courtesy Vexus Fiber)

Vexus Fiber, which operates in 35 communities in Texas and Louisiana, announced plans to expand into Albuquerque by building a fiber optic network that will bring broadband connections to every corner of the city. Jim Gleason, President and CEO of Vexus, told the Journal that it will take about three years to fully expand, but customers in certain neighborhoods will have access in 2022.

“We will build a faster network that can deliver higher speeds compared to traditional providers,” said Gleason.

Gleason said Albuquerque is the right market size for the company that specializes in providing fiber optic to medium-sized cities. Operating in such markets allows the company to build a brand and set up a local office that has an impact on the local economy, Gleason added.

“It’s more effective in a city like Albuquerque than in a big city,” he said.

Gleason said approximately three-quarters of the company’s planned $ 250 million investment in Albuquerque will go directly to building its fiber optic network. Gleason said the company plans to run fiber optic cables directly to homes and businesses, near phone lines and power lines.

“We’re going to start with a fiber optic line that runs right next to all of these utilities,” Gleason said.

Vexus expects expansion to begin next spring after the company signs a priority agreement with the city and begins its design process. Gleason said the construction is expected to create around 200 temporary jobs. In addition, the company plans to establish an office in the city that will provide approximately 150 permanent jobs in Albuquerque, including manager, sales and customer care positions.

Dan Serrano, chairman of the ABQ Westside Chamber of Commerce, said he met with executives at Vexus prior to the announcement and was impressed that the company was not seeking financial incentives to move to town. He hopes the company can become an economic catalyst for the city.

“If it brings other (companies) wanting to come, that’s great,” said Serrano.

Improving broadband access in New Mexico has been a legislative focus in recent years. Industry website BroadbandNow ranks New Mexico 49th for broadband access. While Albuquerque is better connected than rural parts of the state, Gleason said Vexus has reached out to agencies offering rural broadband funding and will try to expand its network to rural parts of the state once it is established in Albuquerque.

“We know there is a lot of pressure in the United States, but especially in New Mexico, to reach rural areas,” Gleason said.

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