As the saying goes, everything is related to everything else. AT&T U-verse‘s expansion of GigaPower could potentially play a part in the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger. A few months after debuting GigaPower in the Austin region, AT&T is inching closer to launching the service in NC, a TWC territory, by partnering with a local initiative. The company is "in advanced discussions" with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN), an alliance of municipalities and schools in the region looking to improve broadband deployment, to launch its gigabit broadband service in parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad areas, it said Thurs. The telco isn’t the only bidder: NCNGN is jointly negotiating with 8 companies, including TWC, according to the group. So far, the telco seems to have the upper hand: "All of the participants in the NCNGN project are encouraged by AT&T’s interest to deliver ultra-fast bandwidth to the Research Triangle and Piedmont regions," said Tracy Futhey, chair of the NCNGN Steering Committee, in a statement. To date, TWC has been the incumbent in each announced or expected GigaPower market. As the expansion continues, Comcast might consider whether a market is "GigaPowered," or is targeted for the service, when it decides which systems to divest to gain approval of merger with TWC, Moffett Nathanson‘s Craig Moffett wrote in a research note. With U-verse reaching about 25% of US HHs, GigaPower’s ultimate deployment is likely to be "a measurable portion of that," he said. Despite the potentially small impact, "one must now begin to ask whether this is simply the leading edge of a larger GigaPower expansion," he said. Evidence: A month after debuting GigabPower, AT&T said it will expand the network to double the HHs in Austin this year because of higher than expected demand. And in light of encouraging cost dynamics of the deployments, it plans to expand to other markets including parts of Dallas, this year and beyond, as long as it can get the terms and conditions like it did in Austin, AT&T chmn/CEO Randall Stephenson said last month during an investor conference. That’s why in the near term, Comcast will "no doubt point to GigaPower as a sign of competitive intensity in the broadband market, helping pave the way for approval of the Time Warner Cable deal," Moffett said. AT&T’s NC proposal entails deployment of a 100% fiber network that can deliver speeds of up to 1 Gbps, 10 times faster than the fastest consumer broadband available in the communities today. The next step will be for the 6 NCNGN member communities to ratify the agreement. The telco’s plan also includes options for public WiFi, free U-verse with GigaPower at up to 100 public sites and an all-fiber network connected to up to 100 commercial buildings across the 6 communities. It also outlined a free 3 Mbps U-verse HSI offer available to 10 affordable housing complexes, up to 3K homes.