Hi there! Let me walk you through the evolution of internet providers in Fort Worth over the years. I‘ll provide plenty of insightful details and data so you can really understand this history.
The internet has become an indispensable part of life today. But it wasn‘t always so readily available. Just 30 years ago, the consumer internet didn‘t even exist in Fort Worth.
To appreciate how far we‘ve come, let‘s start at the very beginning – the invention of the internet itself.
The Origin Story of the Internet
Before the 1960s, the concept of an "internet" did not even exist. At that time, computers were isolated machines lacking the ability to connect and communicate.
That all changed with the creation of ARPANET in 1969. ARPANET was funded by the U.S. government‘s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and built by universities including UCLA, Stanford, and UC Santa Barbara.
ARPANET allowed computers to exchange data by transmitting packets of information between linked nodes. This was the foundation for the distributed network we now know as the internet.
Throughout the 1970s, ARPANET continued expanding to new university and military sites. By 1981, there were 213 hosts connected on this early internet.
Then in 1982, TCP/IP protocols were adopted as the universal language allowing different networks to interconnect. This marked the true beginning of the internet as a vast and common network.
The Early Days of the Consumer Internet (1980s)
In the 1980s, internet access was restricted to government, academia, and the tech industry. The average person had no way to get online.
In fact, most people had never even heard of "the internet" back then. Home computers were still uncommon. Without a basic PC, there was no use for internet access.
A few proprietary online services like CompuServe (1979) and AOL (1983) offered limited email, forums, and content. But the modern World Wide Web did not exist yet.
That changed in 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee invented the foundations of the web at CERN. And it went mainstream in 1991 when the first web browser came out.
The Internet Reaches Fort Worth (Early 1990s)
The early 1990s marked the first arrival of internet in Fort Worth thanks to three key developments:
The launch of NSFNET in 1990 provided a new national backbone network and expanded internet access to thousands more institutions including TCU in Fort Worth.
The World Wide Web went live to the public in 1991. This opened the door to graphical web browsers, websites, multimedia content, e-commerce and more.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) began offering dial-up internet access to homes and businesses.
Early Fort Worth ISPs Included:
Flashnet Communications – Founded in 1994 by Murray Grossman, Flashnet was one of the city‘s very first ISPs. The company is still operating today.
Netcom South – Also founded in 1994, Netcom merged with Flashnet in 1999.
Inet-Tex – Established in 1995, Inet-Tex provided both dial-up access and web hosting services in Fort Worth.
Telenet Internet Services – Founded in 1995, Telenet was another early pioneer in public internet access.
With a modem and dial-up account from these ISPs, Fort Worth residents could finally access this new innovation called the World Wide Web.
Of course, the speeds were painfully slow. Most dial-up connections crawled along at just 26-56kbps. That‘s 500-1000 times slower than today‘s multi-gigabit networks! And you couldn‘t make calls while online.
Still, after being isolated from the early internet, Fort Worth was finally connected by the mid 90s.
The Introduction of Broadband (Late 90s)
Dial-up internet was excruciatingly slow and limited. Fortunately, broadband arrived by the late 1990s, delivering much faster speeds.
Some key milestones included:
1998 – SBC (now AT&T) rolled out DSL broadband in Fort Worth, providing up to 7Mbps speeds over existing phone lines.
2000 – Verizon (then GTE) launched its fiber optic FiOS network with speeds up to 300 Mbps. This brought the next level of performance.
Early 2000s – Cable providers like Time Warner Cable (Spectrum) offered cable modem broadband over their existing cable TV networks.
These technologies – DSL, fiber, and cable – upgraded internet speeds from kilobits to megabits per second. Downloading files, streaming video, and real-time usage finally became viable.
According to the Texas State Library Archives, by the year 2000 40% of households in the Dallas-Fort Worth area had internet access. Today that number is 91% and counting as high-speed broadband reaches more homes.
The Ongoing Fiber Boom in Fort Worth
The 21st century brought renewed focus on deploying ultra high-speed fiber optic networks.
With its nearly unlimited capacity, fiber internet can sustain speed increases for decades to come. While other technologies like DSL and cable have largely peaked, fiber is still rapidly advancing.
Providers in Fort Worth raced to build out fiber locally:
Verizon – By 2014, Verizon‘s FiOS fiber network passed over 209,000 premises in Fort Worth. They sold off operations to Frontier in 2016.
AT&T – Began widespread fiber deployment in Fort Worth in 2014-2015 as part of their GigaPower network (now AT&T Fiber).
Greenlight Networks – A private provider launched in 2019 offering fiber speeds up to 1Gbps in parts of Fort Worth and Arlington.
City of Fort Worth – Partnered with CTC Communications in 2020 to provide citywide public fiber access.
Thanks to major investments, around 66% of Fort Worth residents can now get blazing fast fiber optic internet with speeds up to 1-5Gbps.
The Mobile Internet Revolution
Another huge shift came in the 2000s with the rise of mobile broadband and smartphones.
3G arrived in the early 2000s, followed by 4G LTE in 2010. This allowed internet access on the go from mobile devices.
Fort Worth providers rushed to upgrade their networks, laying fiber backhaul to enable fast mobile data. Speeds accelerated from a few megabits per second to 100+ Mbps down on today‘s 5G networks.
With smartphones in nearly every pocket, mobile internet fueled a new generation of apps, on-demand services, social media, and streaming entertainment.
5G and upcoming technologies will continue to drive more advanced mobile use cases, from VR to autonomous vehicles and smart cities. Fort Worth providers are competing to deploy the networks to make this possible.
Internet Providers in Fort Worth Today
Fort Worth has come a very long way in its internet capabilities since the early 1990s!
Residents and businesses now have access to multiple providers offering everything from basic connections up to multi-gigabit speeds:
AT&T – Offers widespread fiber and DSL coverage along with fixed wireless and mobile data. AT&T Fiber provides speeds up to 5Gbps.
Spectrum – The dominant cable provider with max speeds around 940Mbps. Also provides mobile and phone services.
Frontier – An alternate fiber provider offering up to 1Gbps speeds in parts of Fort Worth.
Greenlight Networks – A newer fiber entrant providing 1Gbps residential service in selected neighborhoods.
T-Mobile – A rapidly growing player after launching 5G home internet with typical speeds of 50-182Mbps.
HughesNet – Satellite internet provider focused on rural coverage. Speeds up to 25Mbps.
Small ISPs – Dozens of local providers like Wisper ISP offer fixed wireless broadband in rural areas.
No matter where you live in Fort Worth, you now have access to internet service fast enough to meet today‘s demands. Multiple competing providers will continue driving improvements in speed, reliability and performance.
The Future of Internet in Fort Worth
It‘s incredible to see how far Fort Worth‘s internet capabilities have progressed in just 30 short years.
Going forward, fiber and 5G buildouts will be key to providing the speed, bandwidth, and low latency required for emerging innovations.
Things like VR, IoT, smart communities, autonomous transportation and advanced mobile experiences are right around the corner. They will all require robust connectivity.
Fort Worth finds itself in a great position. Major investments by AT&T, Spectrum, Frontier, Greenlight Networks and T-Mobile will help power the city into the future.
The days of slow dial-up are long gone. As technology continues advancing, Fort Worth now has the internet infrastructure and providers needed to enable the next generation of digital breakthroughs.
The future looks bright and lightning fast!