King Announces DSL to More of Parker County

November 29, 2007

Weatherford Democrat

Galen Scott

Telecom giant AT&T announced plans to offer high-speed DSL Internet to thousands of mostly East Parker County homes at a press conference Thursday.

Jim Epperson, president of AT&T Texas, unveiled plans to build new infrastructure by next year that would increase the number of Parker County homes with high-speed Internet access by 30 percent.

“If you are in a place that is served by a competitor — a cable company or anybody else — it will be good because now, suddenly, you’ll have at least two companies competing for your business,” Epperson told a small audience assembled in the Weatherford College Alkek Fine Arts complex. “And good things usually happen when companies compete for your business.”

In addition to some Parker County locations that currently lack any high-speed Internet service, Epperson said the company plans to concentrate the expansion in and around Aledo, Silver Creek, Lake Weatherford, Willow Park and parts of Weatherford.

State Rep. Phil King, chairman of the House Regulated Industries Committee, spoke briefly at the press conference, emphasizing the benefits of high-speed Internet. He noted school curriculums are increasingly reliant on the Internet, and pointed out the importance of sending kids off to college Internet-proficient.

“From an economic development standpoint, everywhere the Internet goes, frankly, the money follows,” King added. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity for people to build business, and particularly for small businesses in communities like ours.”

Ann Saunders, chair of the Doss Culture and Heritage Center, AT&T’s biggest Parker County beneficiary, noted distance learning and telemedicine services also depend on the Internet.

“We really pride ourselves on our small-town charm, but we still need access to the newest technology at the most affordable prices in order to keep our community thriving and our economy strong and growing,” she said.

King said the planned expansion is a tremendous financial investment for AT&T.

“They’ve had a large history here,” King said of the company. “And we’re going to hit them up for a bunch more stuff as time goes on.”

Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall told King that his famous telecom deregulation legislation has, “clearly delivered on its promises.”

“Senate Bill 5 and the leadership of Phil King made this possible in Aledo, and we thank you,” Marshall told her old friend.

Because of certain competitive agreements, Epperson said he couldn’t provide a map or offer specifics pertaining to exactly where the new service will be provided, but he did say thousands of homes could be affected.

In addition to DSL lines, the company plans to offer U-verse in Parker County, an AT&T service Epperson claims is capable of producing very high speeds. Previously, he said U-verse was only available in Texas’ largest metropolitan areas: San Antonio, Houston, Austin, DFW, and surrounding bedroom communities.

“This is the first time we’ve been in an area outside a major area,” he added.

Epperson estimated DSL roll-out in Parker County will probably take place during the first quarter of 2008, with U-verse expected to be up-and-running by the third quarter.

When asked what made Parker County stand out as an attractive new market, Epperson referenced population growth, particularly within new housing developments.

“The Barnett Shale has brought a whole lot of investment and a whole lot of new business to this county,” he added. “It’s close to a major metropolitan area, but it’s far enough way. People come here because they love the lifestyle and people who have come here are used to and want modern technology. Put all that together and it’s a perfect market.”