AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches stated during an investor conference the operator’s joint fibre venture with private equity firm BlackRock Alternatives could enable it to compete outside of its traditional 21-state footprint.

The US operator and BlackRock announced the fibre joint venture (JV), which is called Gigapower, in late December with a goal of reaching 1.5 million customer locations. Former AT&T executive Bill Hogg was named as the CEO of Gigapower.

Gigapower’s initial goal is to provide a fibre network to internet service providers and other businesses across the US.

Speaking at the Citi 2023 Communications, Media & Entertainment conference, Desroches stated the JV would allow the operator to experiment with offering services, which could include wireless and bundling relationships, outside of its traditional footprint in a “capital light” manner.

AT&T executives have previously stated a goal of passing 30 million businesses and consumer fibre locations by 2025, which doesn’t include the 1.5 million from the JV.

As of Q3, the operator had 18.5 million consumer locations and 3.5 million business locations passed with its fibre.

“We feel really good about the pace of our build,” he stated. “We’re doing it at rates that no one has ever done in the industry, and we’re able to do it in a cost-efficient way because of our scale. We’re really excited by the opportunity and the partnership with BlackRock.”

While AT&T and rival Verizon have started building out their own fibre networks that gave them owner economics, T-Mobile US has largely relied on leases.