New AT&T-BlackRock venture bringing high-speed internet to underserved areas

Collage of Internet, communications and network equipment with pictures of data transfer by optical fiber information technology and telecommunication tower with radio panel antennas and outdoor remote radio units. Concept of data and mobile information te
Liberty County has no access to high-speed internet, but this venture aims to fix that.

The world’s largest telecommunications company is joining forces with the world’s largest asset manager to form a venture to bring more high-speed internet to areas — like rural Florida — that have been passed over so far.

Gigapower is the name of the venture AT&T and BlackRock are forming. It aims to create an open-access fiber network where multiple providers can provide subscribers with high-speed internet service.

BlackRock was one of the firms from which the state of Florida pulled its investments last December due to BlackRock’s support for sustainable investing. Nevertheless, a news release about the new venture says Gigapower represents a project that will connect more people and boost opportunities for all.

It “will advance efforts to bridge the digital divide and spur economic growth in the communities where Gigapower operates,” said Larry Fink, BlackRock’s Chairman and CEO, in a prepared news release.

In areas without broadband access, things like remote work, telehealth appointments and online schooling remain out of reach.

What parts of Florida this new venture will be included was not immediately available Friday.

Broadbandnow.com rates Florida as having the 10th-best access to broadband among the states, but found there is no access in Liberty County. In Calhoun County, less than 0.3% of the county has broadband available, and broadband covers just 0.4% of Dixie County. And less than half of the area in these counties have broadband available: Bradford, Gilchrist, Glades, Holmes, Jefferson, Levy and Washington.

Pinellas County, meanwhile, tops the state in percentage of the area able to get broadband, with high-speed internet available in 99.9% of the county.

AT&T will be the new company’s first “tenant” on this new fiber network reaching the underserved, the news release says.

“We believe fiber connectivity changes everything. That’s why we’re already one of the biggest investors in fiber in the United States,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, in a prepared statement.

“The demand for high-speed connectivity is unprecedented, and through this innovative partnership with BlackRock, one of the world’s foremost investors in infrastructure, we’re able to connect even more people and businesses, accelerating our efforts to help close the digital divide.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


13 comments

  • gloriajame

    May 12, 2023 at 3:04 pm

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  • Michael K

    May 12, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    BlackRock is woke! And AT&T is woke! Turns out some of the most successful businesses in the world are “woke” and believe in treating their employees — all employees – with dignity and respect for diversity and inclusion and concern for our environment and the future.

    My TSP investments (managed by BlackRock) has outperformed Vanguard. I’ll stick with woke over asleep and unconscious and regressive any day.

  • george

    May 12, 2023 at 6:23 pm

    these companies should be allowed to do business only if they drop all woke policies.

  • Mcfly

    May 12, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    B-rock bought up so much property at 20% over market. Everyone struggling finding affordable homes and forced into renting can thank B-rock.

  • Maria Pesquez

    May 12, 2023 at 7:03 pm

    Commies at the door. Knock Knock.

    • Flynn

      May 12, 2023 at 8:48 pm

      Just another shell to lure folks to cheap, tracking, invasive internet that b-rock owns and monitors to invade privacy. Say no Floida!

    • Paul C. Cowan Jr.

      May 13, 2023 at 9:01 am

      I have ATT fiber. Or I am charged for it. I do NOT have it at my home. The fiber I am supposedly using goes by on the hiway 1 block away NOT to the house. I am paying for it every month yet do NOT get it. ATT keeps insisting I have it at home…I do NOT . Do not trust ATT. They argue and steal your money

  • Dave Huff

    May 12, 2023 at 8:55 pm

    Bend over…..

  • Kyle

    May 13, 2023 at 6:36 am

    Reporter alert – so what is sustainable investing and how backward big bad DeSantis is for divesting FL from a company that invests in sustainability? Anne why don’t you investigate BR’s sustainable investing practices and report on them instead of using a benign euphemism to gloss over a great chasm of evil while you get atta-pronouns from your colleagues.

  • Sam Adams

    May 13, 2023 at 9:40 am

    Correct. ATT is a ripoff. I have had it with the “up to … ” fables spun by Internet providers and the FCC. The FCC “… broadband capability requires consumers to have access to actual download speeds of at least 25 Mbps …”. Just ran another *real world* speed test on my ATT DSL and got a better-than-usual 5.65 Mbps download speed and … what for it … 0.43 Mbps upload speed.

Comments are closed.


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