The new company will target 1.5 million locations beyond the scope of AT&T’s existing fibre network

It was certainly a happy New Year for AT&T this year, having announced the creation of a new fibre joint venture (JV) with US-based investment firm BlackRock.

The JV, to be named Gigapower LLC, will offer wholesale access to ISPs and other business customers.

In total, the company aims to deploy multi-gigabit fibre to 1.5 million customer locations currently outside of AT&T’s existing network, which currently serves 21 states across the country.

“With this joint venture, more customers and communities outside of our traditional service areas will receive the social and economic benefits of the world’s most durable and capable technology to access all the internet has to offer,” said AT&T CEO John Stankey.

Specific locations targeted for fibre coverage have yet to be revealed.

The company’s ownership and financing structure of Gigapower has also not been disclosed, with analysts estimating the venture to be worth between $10 billion and $15 billion.

BlackRock is one of the ‘Big Three’ index fund managers in the US, managing a portfolio worth $313 billion, including a growing number of infrastructure assets.

Indeed, in October last year, BlackRock raised $4.5 billion for its new diversified infrastructure fund, which it said would target infrastructure assets that would benefit from the global shift towards low-carbon energy.

Coincidentally or otherwise, it was also around this time that AT&T first announced that they had hired Morgan Stanley to help manage the creation of a fibre joint venture and select an infrastructure partner.

“We are excited to form the Gigapower joint venture in partnership with AT&T, which will be serving as not only a joint owner but also the first wholesale tenant,” said Mark Florian, Global Head of Diversified Infrastructure, BlackRock. “We believe Gigapower’s fibre infrastructure designed as a commercial open access platform will more efficiently connect communities across the United States with critical broadband services.”

As always, the customary regulatory approvals will be required before the deal is finalised.

AT&T is currently aiming to expand its own fibre networks to over 30 million locations by the end of 2025.

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