Verizon CEO: C-Band gives FWA staying power

Cable and fiber players have argued that capacity issues will inherently limit the useful life of fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband. But Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg hit back this week, contending that its mid-band spectrum gives the operator the ability to serve significantly more than 4-5 million fixed wireless customers it’s aiming for by the end of 2025. And, he added, that means Verizon is in prime position in a market that is moving toward convergence with fixed-mobile service bundles.

Speaking at a UBS investor conference, Vestberg noted Verizon owns about 160 MHz of C-Band spectrum nationwide but is only deploying 60 MHz of that to start with. That means that even though fixed wireless customers are using just as much data as its wired Fios customers, Verizon will face “no challenges in network capacity” to reach its FWA subscriber goal.

“So far in the plans we have, there are no worries for capacity,” he stated.

Verizon already crossed the 1 million FWA customer mark in Q3. Currently, it’s delivering speeds of up to 1-gig for those covered by millimeter wave spectrum and up to 300 Mbps for those covered by C-Band. But with all that extra C-Band spectrum on hand, Vestberg said there’s room for it to add more speed tiers in the future.

He added that Verizon’s expanding FWA footprint and capacity headroom leave it poised to capture customers looking for converged connectivity options. Until now, big cable players have had something of an advantage in being able to offer a national broadband footprint as well as national wireless service through MVNO agreements with Verizon. And they’ve gotten more aggressive with their wireless pricing of late. But with fixed wireless, Verizon can push its broadband offer outside of its traditional Fios footprint and fight back.

“If the market and customers really want that, I’m really, really bullish on our success in that area much stronger than anybody else,” Vestberg said. “It’s one network and the more revenues and the more connections you have on that, the better return on capital you have.”