Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: Westchester Gigs Out to $750M Tune

TGIF. In this week's edition of Gigabites, start spreading the news, Westchester County in New York plans for gigabit broadband in four cities, AT&T drops its GigaPower brand name, Charter sues the city of Louisville and more.

  • Add Westchester to the list of gigabit hopefuls. The New York county is combining the efforts and resources of its four largest cities to kick off an initiative designed to spread gigabit broadband "to every household, business, healthcare, and educational organization in the next three to five years."

    According to a report in The Journal News, the cities of Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers have joined with the Westchester County Association to launch a public/private partnership aimed at raising funds and orchestrating the planned gigabit rollout. Participants in this initiative, which is being sealed with the signing of a Smart City ComPACT, estimate that the cost of the project will hover at around $750 million, but they acknowledge that it could approach closer to $1 billion.

    So far, the Westchester cities haven't decided on a funding approach for their new project. However, three options are reportedly on the table. The cities could contract with a commercial broadband provider, shoulder the long-term cost of gigabit service by building and owning their own network or follow a hybrid model possibly combining city bond initiatives with a commercial partnership that would help spread the cost around.

    The Westchester County Association calls the new venture "the first such compact between cities in the nation." But the approach emulates one followed in several other regions where counties or cities join together to pool their resources for gigabit broadband deployment. Other examples include the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) project and the Tri-Gig initiative covering the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. (See Gigabites: NC Cities Issue New Gig RFP.)

  • For more gigabit coverage and insights, check out our dedicated Gigabit/Broadband content channel here on Light Reading.

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) waved goodbye to its GigaPower brand this week. While simultaneously announcing market launches in 11 new metropolitan areas, the telco said it was retiring the GigaPower brand name in favor of AT&T Fiber for its gigabit broadband services. According to AT&T, the new umbrella name will encompass the old GigaPower network, but will also cover the deployment of new types of network technologies in the future. Those new technologies might include a version of broadband delivery over power line that AT&T recently introduced under the moniker Project AirGig. (See AT&T Claims 'Breakthrough' With New Power Line Delivery Tech for 4G, 5G.)

  • Elsewhere, and following in AT&T's footsteps, Charter Communications Inc. has decided to further its own broadband aims by suing the city of Louisville, Kentucky. While AT&T sued Louisville for enacting new pole attachment rules, however, Charter is taking a different tack. The cable company is suing because it claims Louisville unfairly signed a more favorable franchise deal with Google Fiber Inc. than the one Charter was offered and signed years ago. (See Gigabites: Google's Back on the Pole.)

  • In better news, gigabit rollouts have continued in other parts of the country. RCN Corp. launched gigabit service in parts of Chicago late last week, and Altice -owned Suddenlink spread the gigabit love to two new cities in New Mexico and one in Texas.

  • And finally, in case you missed it, Light Reading's own Upskill University hosted a series of gigabit classes over the last couple of weeks covering everything from gigabit technologies to network deployments and the future of smart cities. All classes are archived for on-demand listening on the Upskill U site.

    — Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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