Comcast expands broadband network in Weber, Davis counties
SALT LAKE CITY — Comcast Corp., the telecom giant that operates high-speed internet provider Xfinity, has bolstered its network in Northern Utah with a $4 million expansion that brings access to nearly 2,000 more homes in South Ogden, Kaysville, Bountiful and Farmington.
The firm announced the expansion Monday, and it comes as leaders and residents in more and more cities in Weber and Davis counties weigh how to increase internet options in their locales. Firms like UTOPIA Fiber and Ogden-based Connext have also pushed to increase high-speed internet offerings in the area.
“We’re expanding our service area to make it available to new homes, to additional homes and customers who didn’t have access before,” Chris Dunkeson, area vice president for Comcast in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, said Monday.
He said the expansion, finished about a month ago, brings the Comcast network to areas where homes were only recently built. Company officials worked with leaders in the impacted cities to pinpoint where coverage was lacking.
Comcast reps “are continuously investing and making sure that we’re expanding to these new neighborhoods and newer cities and locations that pop up where maybe we didn’t have existing service before,” said Deneiva Knight, external affairs director for Comcast. Knight, based in Salt Lake City, and Dunkeson, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, spoke by phone Monday with the Standard-Examiner.
Broadband access is an increasingly big point of debate in Northern Utah and beyond as more and more educational and work functions are handled at home, necessitating expanded home high-speed connectivity. It’s been a point of discussion in many locales and West Haven officials last month approved a deal with the Utah Infrastructure Agency, a sister agency to UTOPIA, to build a $17.6 million fiber-optic network in the city to bolster accessibility.
Officials in Syracuse broke ground on a $23.5 million UTOPIA broadband network in that Davis County city last December, among many other locales opting for systems built by the community-owned entity based in Murray. Last February, Connext announced completion of the first phase of a new fiber network the private company is building in Clinton, one of many locales where it’s expanding.
Davis County Commissioner Lorene Kamalu, who’s attuned to the clamoring for increased internet access in Utah and beyond, lauded the Comcast plans and, more broadly, increased interest by providers in expanding their infrastructure.
“I personally think it’s great to have competition,” she said, noting there are still areas of Davis County with limited or spotty internet access. A “robust broadband infrastructure,” she said, helps lure new businesses, while Dunkeson noted the importance of competition in bringing “additional innovation to internet services” to Utah.
Comcast has invested more than $900 million in bolstering its network in Utah over the last 12 years, Dunkeson said, also noting that company reps welcome input on where to expand. “I think one of the best ways is if people either reach out to us or the community they live in. We’re happy to work with communities and see where the opportunities are and see where we can add value,” he said.
Knight also noted the Comcast initiative Internet Essentials, which gives customers “experiencing financial challenges” access to a lower-cost, $9.95-a-month internet option. Some 188,000 Utahns are tapping the program.
Reps from the Utah Broadband Center, part of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, launched a campaign last March for Utahns to report the internet speed where they live and work. The aim is to identify areas with little or no access to high-speed internet.
“Broadband is more than just having access to the internet; it’s having the bandwidth to reasonably work, learn, or access healthcare virtually from business or home,” the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity said in announcing its initiative.