Key executives shared their vision for the Gigapower joint venture between AT&T and Black Rock on a Broadband Breakfast webcast today, touching on everything from network technology to potential BEAD funding to how they expect to change attitudes toward open access.
“Fiber is a great asset,” said Adam Waltz, managing director of Black Rock’s Global Infrastructure Fund, and Black Rock was excited about the opportunity to create Gigapower because it sees the U.S. as underpenetrated when it comes to fiber broadband.
Meet Gigapower CEO Bill Hogg
As Gigapower CEO Bill Hogg sees it, “scale will be a differentiator.”
The Gigapower network is slated to reach at least 1.5 million locations. And that makes it considerably larger than other open access networks.
The network’s scale will appeal to service providers interested in offering service over the network because “you don’t want to make [them] invest over and over with a lot of small players,” said Hogg.
Hogg also said the network will appeal to state broadband officials as they administer the BEAD rural broadband funding program.
“They like the idea that multiple ISPs will be able to bring choice to their constituents,” he said. “They don’t have to pick a winner and a loser.”
Erin Scarborough, AT&T president of broadband and connectivity, said the company still prefers owner’s economics where it makes sense. But she added that “building out networks is really onerous – it takes time, and it takes significant capital.”
The open access and joint venture approach, she said, will enable the company to expand more rapidly.
She also noted that AT&T has a strong brand and retail outlets nationwide for its wireless business the company will be able to leverage those assets in selling broadband outside its traditional local service territory.
Gigapower aims to make it easy for providers to use the network by offering TMForum-standard application programming interfaces (APIs), Hogg explained. This will enable providers using the network, including anchor tenant AT&T, to offer their customers an interface that looks identical to the one that the providers use for services delivered over their own network.
“The reason we built this platform is to make it easier for [service providers] to expand,” he said. “We think this model is going to make sense to service providers and break down the historical biases that providers have had about not controlling the assets.”
Hogg also noted that Gigapower will be deploying XGS-PON fiber broadband technology.
Still Mum on Key Details
Gigapower revealed its initial markets several months ago, but participants on the webcast declined to provide any information about timing or pricing.
A replay of the Broadband Breakfast webcast is available at this link.