Florida Palm Trees

Gigapower, the joint venture between AT&T and BlackRock, announced today that it is expanding to three new markets, all in Florida. The networks will use Gigapower’s open access approach and will offer multi-gigabit speeds over fiber broadband infrastructure.

The three markets are Okaloosa County, Crestview and Fort Walton Beach – although it’s worth noting that Crestview and Fort Walton Beach are both in Okaloosa County.

Okaloosa County is in Florida’s panhandle and had a population of over 211,000 as of 2020. It saw a population increase exceeding 17% between the 2010 census and the 2020 census.

With a population of over 27,000 as of 2020, Crestview is the largest city in the county. The population of Fort Walton Beach was nearly 21,000 as of 2020.

AT&T plans to deliver service over the network, and Gigapower will offer service over the network on a wholesale basis to other providers.

AT&T and BlackRock announced the Gigapower joint venture in late 2022, and the deal was finalized last year. The partners set an initial target of making service available to 1.5 million locations.

Initially, it was surprising to see AT&T involved in an open access network, as large providers generally want complete control of their networks. The open access approach, however, could enable the company to minimize risk by enabling an additional revenue source from other providers. That approach may be particularly attractive in markets outside AT&T’s local service footprint.

When Telecompetitor spoke to Gigapower CEO Bill Hogg earlier this year, the company had not yet signed up other providers to use the network. But Hogg told us that the company has had “very detailed conversations with several potential customers – legacy ILECs, non-facilities-based ISPs and some cable companies.”

Another consideration is that in certain states, using an open access approach could give Gigapower an edge in winning grants through rural broadband funding programs. Hogg told us the company would consider applying for funding in some of those programs.

Gigapower announced last year that Las Vegas would be its initial market. Since then, it announced plans for parts of Arizona, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Florida, Minnesota, and in Albuquerque.

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