GigaPowerAT&T said today that it is considering bringing broadband at speeds up to a gigabit per second to as many as 100 additional cities in 21 metro areas.  These upgrades would be in addition to previously announced plans for Austin, Dallas, Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem.

To support the high-speed service, dubbed GigaPower, AT&T would need to extend fiber infrastructure to individual homes or small businesses. Until now the company has relied primarily on DSL or high-speed DSL based on fiber-to-the-neighborhood for broadband service delivery.

AT&T said it plans to select communities for the upgrades based on which ones show the strongest investment cases based on anticipated demand and “the most receptive policies.”

The company said that it expects to begin construction in some communities this year but also noted that the fiber build is not expected to impact the company’s capital investment plans for 2014.

Metro areas under consideration include:

  • Atlanta
  • Augusta
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Fort Worth
  • Greensboro
  • Jacksonville
  • Houston
  • Kansas City
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Nashville
  • Oakland
  • Orlando
  • St. Louis
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose

In a frequently asked questions section on its website, AT&T invites leaders from communities under consideration to contact their AT&T external affairs representative or email gigapower@att.com.

The carrier also says in the FAQ that it will consider communities not on its target list if those communities demonstrate a strong investment case.

In its comments about decision criteria, AT&T didn’t specify what it meant by “receptive policies,” but it’s easy to guess based on what we’ve seen AT&T and other gigabit network operators have been offered in other markets. For example, Google asks cities to help streamline the process of gaining access to utility poles and other infrastructure that can help minimize deployment costs.

Network operators also have been targeting gigabit network upgrades for cities that don’t require the operators to deploy the high-speed service to everyone in the city but instead to concentrate on neighborhoods where residents express the greatest level of interest in an upgrade by, for example, paying a deposit toward future service.

Financial analysts at research firm Moffett Nathanson recently expressed skepticism about whether municipalities in California or the upper Midwest would be willing to allow the demand-driven franchising model. In a recent research note, the analysts said they would expect municipalities in the former BellSouth and SBC territories to be more receptive to that model.

Those expectations will now be put to the test, as the list of potential target communities that AT&T released today includes cities in all four of the categories that Moffett Nathanson noted – including those expected to be least receptive as well as those expected to be most receptive.