Verizon's Joe Russo talks One Fiber, broadband funding opportunities

Verizon President of Global Networks and Technology Joe Russo shared a brief update this week about the company’s One Fiber build, which aims to run fiber to more than 60 markets outside of its ILEC footprint.

“We are largely done with our core build of the One Fiber markets,” he said at a Wells Fargo investor event, noting the pace of the build “is great timing” because it allows Verizon to bring down its capital for 2024 as well as progress on its 5G Ultra Wideband rollout.

Russo didn’t specify how much of the core One Fiber build has been complete or where those markets are located. In January 2023, a Verizon rep told Fierce, “the entire One Fiber initiative is 80% complete with many markets already 100% built.”

Russo added Verizon can “reallocate some of that fiber out of footprint allocation to our Ultra Wideband build and keep on pace and to some extent, accelerate as we go into '24 and '25.”

“At this point, it's mostly where we're building new macros or small cells, and we need fiber off of the core,” he said. “We'll add those tails to the core, but largely the core is now built.”


Regarding Fios, Russo said Verizon continues to build around half a million new Fios homes per year. In Q3, the carrier added 72,000 net Fios subscribers.

Asked if Verizon prefers to build on its own fiber network or lease fiber from a third party, Russo said it does both depending on the footprint.

In its core networks or within the ILEC territory, “where we have our own fiber, we'll use our own fiber, especially if it's close enough to the core that it makes sense.”

But in areas where Verizon has “a little less than half or so” of fiber, “we do go to third parties, and we will use them.”

“Whether it's the tower companies like Crown or the Lumens or AT&Ts or others of the world,” he added.

Earlier this fall, Verizon put out a press release noting it’s connected over 51% of its own cell sites with fiber – a slight uptick from the 48% estimate it gave in September 2022.

Funding opportunities

As for Verizon’s plans with the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, Russo said the company has “several bids out in that space” and thinks it could be “very successful” with that funding.

“We're getting to places that we normally wouldn't have built before,” he said.

An analyst asked Russo how Verizon evaluates rural buildout opportunities. He said within the ILEC footprint, Verizon “largely look[s] at each case individually.”

“It's a pretty complicated model that we have built to make sure that we're being aggressive on our bids, but we're also making a good return based on penetration, based on competitiveness in the area, based on how much work we think we have to do,” how many homes passed the company’s targeting, etc.

“We've been very aggressive in trying to make sure we balance what we're asking for versus what we're willing to put up ourselves to make the whole case work for everybody,” said Russo.