If you don't believe Google Fiber is serious about city cooperation, maybe you'll listen to AT&T

10 March 2014 by Steve Blum
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The odds of attracting FTTH investment depends on a lot more than luck.

AT&T was jolted into finding a fiber-to-the-home business case in Austin after Google Fiber said it was making the Texas capital and surrounding suburbs its next stop after Kansas City. But regardless of how it happened, AT&T is now singing in the FTTH choir. According to Fierce Telecom, CEO Randall Stephenson told an investment conference audience that the initiative, branded “Gigapower” is ready to roll out in Dallas this summer and other cities where it makes sense

The market adoption and the performance of our U-verse Gigapower technology has been very, very encouraging…in fact, we’re so encouraged that we want to begin taking this to other communities. What we’re doing in cities and municipalities where we can get the terms and conditions we got in Austin we’re redirecting VIP investment to fiber to the home deployment.

The terms and conditions Stephenson is talking about are, in large part, the same concessions granted to Google Fiber, which are detailed in its City Checklist. Things like solid information about and access to local broadband infrastructure, and rapid and friction-free approval of permit applications and construction plans.

“VIP” is AT&T’s Internet protocol transition program, originally intended to drive fiber-to-the-basement deployments for business customers in city centers and continue the limited upgrade of its consumer plant to support Uverse service.

Even if AT&T were to spend all $14 billion of its notional VIP capital budget on FTTH, it would only be able to upgrade a small fraction of its huge network. And in reality, the real number won’t be close to that. So AT&T will be selective and, like Google, will base its decisions in large part on the costs cities add to projects. The lower the regulatory cost, the better the chances in the gigabit swwepstakes, whether it’s Google or AT&T or one of their competitors that’s picking the winners.