When Hal Brumfield witnessed his widowed mother’s internet bill unexpectedly jump from $70 to $150 a month while she was living alone in a retirement community, he knew he had a business idea on his hands.
Today he’s CEO of The Woodlands-based Tachus, an internet provider that’s preparing to enter the competitive Dallas-Fort Worth market with a high-speed fiber optic network and easy-to-understand pricing.
“We just believe in transparency,” Brumfield said. “We don’t want to put asterisks on things and have you read the fine print because nobody does that.”
Despite internet service being dominated by the likes of AT&T, Spectrum and Frontier, Tachus is targeting D-FW for its first expansion beyond the Houston area. The company said it will dig up a customer base by focusing on residential neighborhoods with limited customer choice and a lack of reliable, high-speed service.
“We’ve competed against many other providers over the last couple of years, and we’ve had great success, so I believe we’ll have the same in Dallas,” Brumfield said.
What is Tachus’ competitive advantage? Brumfield said it’s the company’s nondeceptive pricing — free from the kind of 12-month special fine-print clauses that entrapped his mother.
“The number you see, that is what your bill is. There are no hidden taxes, fees, equipment rentals, anything like that,” Brumfield said. “If you stay with the same service, your bill will never go up. It’s fixed for life.”
The company promises its customers unlimited data-only services at prices ranging from $65 to $90 a month, depending on desired network speed. Brumfield said Dallas prices may be even lower than those rates.
Since Tachus offers only fiber internet, company shovels will break ground this year in Dallas, Collin, Tarrant, Denton, Rockwall, Kaufman, Ellis, Grayson, Parker, Hood, Johnson and Hunt counties. Tachus identified those areas with a simple strategy: phone calls, emails and online forms sent from Dallas internet users dissatisfied with their current provider.
“They really told us, ‘Please come to Dallas,’ ” Brumfield said.
With more than $190 million in funding from Crosstimbers Capital Group and other Texas banks, Tachus plans to expand its networks across Texas. The D-FW project is the first move of its multiyear investment plan, and it comes at a large cost for the 19,000-customer network.
The company spent more than $100 million building its current Houston-based network. Brumfield said the D-FW expansion will likely cost more.
Compared with other providers, Tachus’ investment is hardly a ripple in the ocean. Between 2018 and 2020, AT&T spent $3.5 billion to improve its D-FW networks. AT&T is also pursuing a move to fiber in D-FW and across the U.S., adding 1 million fiber subscribers nationwide for the past four years.
On a more local scale, Tachus has made an imprint on the Houston area since its 2018 founding, connecting nearly 70,000 homes and 19,000 customers to its network. In April, Ookla internet testing and analysis identified Tachus as the Houston provider with the fastest median download speed and CNET included the company among its list of best internet providers in Houston.
The company has also outperformed competitors by net promoter score, a closely watched measure of customer loyalty.
According to FCC data, most of D-FW already has access to three or more broadband providers, including a fiber option, and North Texas counties have some of the highest internet availability percentages in the state.
Unlike other major providers in the area, Tachus is not a partner in the federal infrastructure bill that subsidizes internet services for qualifying households. Still, Brumfield said Tachus’ fast, reliable coverage, transparent prices and strong, local customer service will carve out a space for the company.
“All internet providers are not created equal. We’re a 100% fiber optic network end-to-end, so all of our customers have a fiber line that goes from the inside of their home all the way to the internet, and what that does is it creates services that [are] both fast and consistent,” Brumfield said. “In addition to being 100% fiber, we’re also 100% Texan.”