Verizon’s One Fiber build rolls full steam ahead

Verizon’s One Fiber initiative still has legs even as it enters its sixth year running, the operator’s CTO Kyle Malady told investors.

Speaking at a Wells Fargo investor conference on Monday, Malady said its One Fiber project is about 80% complete and is expected to chug along apace for the next two to three years.

“We’re getting there on the core build,” he said, adding “in a lot of markets it’s more connecting the cell sites into it and connecting what we call laterals. So building the fiber laterals to cell sites or what have you and connecting back to the core. We’ve got a couple, two, three more years left on our fiber build here, and then primarily it’ll be just success-based builds.”

Verizon launched its One Fiber initiative in 2016, unifying its fiber planning and purchasing for both wireless and wireline into a single program. It initially announced a six-year, $300 million project in Boston, eventually outlining ambitions to add fiber to more than 60 markets outside of its ILEC footprint.

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Malady noted approximately one-third of Verizon’s cell sites now run on its own fiber. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg previously stated in January a majority of its 5G sites were connected to its own fiber, and it was migrating 4G sites where it made sense.

“We like the owner’s economics of that. We also like the control of the network because we can maintain quality and reliability, and at the end of the day that’s kind of our brand promise to our customers,” Malady said.

The CTO also provided an update on its fixed wireless access (FWA) deployments, noting that while the operator is initially focused on offering 5G Home FWA to consumers, a move to target small and medium businesses "seems to be a no-brainer."

Malady added he expects Verizon’s fiber experience to give it a leg up in the FWA arms race with rivals like T-Mobile. “Having been in the Fios game for a long time we understand what works, what doesn’t work, how to set things up, the customer support, all the different angles. So I do believe that having experience with Fios is absolutely going to translate over to what we do with 5G Home.”