The wireless side of things tends to dominate AT&T’s world these days, so it is always interesting to see them make a move in the world of last mile fiber. They have partnered up with BlackRock Alternatives to launch a new joint venture targeting fiber reach outside their traditional 21-state incumbent territory.
The JV is called Gigapower, and it will operate a commercial access fiber platform in the US outside their main footprint. That fiber will be available on a wholesale open access platform to other service providers, but of course the first customer will be AT&T itself. It’s an interesting way for AT&T to leverage outside capital to reach beyond its fiber comfort zone into areas it already does plenty of business on the wireless side.
In the old days, this might have been seen as an incumbent invading another incumbent’s turf as a competitive provider. But such distinctions seem more of a regulatory throwback than before. And besides, they aren’t actually saying exactly where Gigapower will be building network, yet at least. But I’d guess what we’re talking about is at least partly driven by where AT&T has existing underutilized fiber assets beyond that incumbent footprint, perhaps as part of its wireless backhaul and enterprise fiber infrastructure in part.
Gigapower’s first stated target is to deploy multi-gig services to some 1.5M homes. For AT&T this will be complementary to the company’s own existing target of FTTH to 30M residential and business locations by the end of 2025. Gigapower will be jointly owned and operated by AT&T and Gigapower, and while AT&T doesn’t expect to consolidate the JV’s financials they will include the extra consumer subscriber gains with their wireline operational results.
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