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Gigapower Riding the Open Access Network

Gigapower Riding the Open Access Network

Private capital is opening fiber availability outside of traditional telecom models, with the Gigapower joint venture between AT&T and infrastructure investor Blackrock a prime example. Gigapower is focusing on an open access model that will initially pass 1.5 million homes nationwide and enable the network to be used and shared by multiple fiber-to-the-home service providers. The open access model will be built with XGS PON with upgrades possible to deliver 25G and beyond.

“The best analogy [for open access] would be MVNOs and wireless. You have virtual network operators and wireless that ride on the existing carrier’s networks,” said Bill Hogg, Chief Executive Officer of Gigapower. “It’s a very similar kind of model here. We build a fiber network that we share amongst multiple ISPs. It allows multiple ISPs to offer service over the same map. It’s a success-based model for them.”

An open access network model is capital efficient for ISPs entering into new markets because they simply pay as they add subscribers; they don’t have the large upfront cost associated with building a dedicated network. Once subscribers are added, that’s when ISPs begin actually paying for services. Service providers can focus on marketing and customer service rather than planning, building, and operating the fiber network.

AT&T will use the Gigapower network to offer fiber broadband services outside of its established territories, and Hogg expects other carriers, large and small, to do the same, taking advantage of Gigapower’s build to accusatively expand coverage beyond their home territories and getting faster time to market because the Gigapower network is already under construction.

“It’s pretty straightforward. You get better utilization. You’re very efficient from your capex perspective. Economically, I think everybody looks at it and goes ‘Okay, yeah. That makes a lot of sense,’” noted Hogg. “When you think about it historically, operators want to own and control the network and have it be a differentiator. I thought it was very progressive of AT&T to look at this and go, ‘We’re going to go explore this really different model.’”

Service providers have a variety of options to choose from to tap into the Gigapower network, from buying simple access and adding their own CPE either installed by their personnel or self-installed by the customer to providing CPE and technicians to install at a customer’s home.

For more on Gigapower’s open access network, listen to the latest Fiber for Breakfast podcast.