Verizon has backed fixed wireless access technologies while others in the broadband sector are chasing the fibre possibility. However, in an odd way, Verizon Business CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath claimed that the company’s fixed wireless service expansion may potentially motivate it to install fibre in more areas than the 60 it currently serves through its One Fiber effort. Say what?

In an effort to reduce lease costs and service a number of its various business lines, Verizon developed One Fiber a number of years ago. According to Sampath, it has so far installed about 50,000 miles of fibre across 60 markets, mostly in NFL cities and tier-1 metro areas, and switched over half of its cell sites to use this infrastructure. It also makes use of One Fiber assets to deliver wholesale dark fiber and enterprise services. Sampath said the total addressable market for those services alone in the markets it serves is “really big,” noting it can build out last-mile fiber to reach near-net opportunities within 30 to 60 days.

Theoretically, it may increase the availability of its fiber-to-the-home service through its One Fiber backbone. Sampath, however, said that it is not interested, in part due to the $45 billion it recently paid to expand its C-Band spectrum holdings. It is steadfastly committed to expanding its fixed wireless access presence. Additionally, as it increases the use of millimeter wave and C-band spectrum to expand the FWA business, this may encourage the company to expand the deployment of fibre backbone infrastructure in areas where doing so is profitable.

Sowmyanarayan Sampath Verizon
Sampath indicated this week it doesn’t expect to see meaningful revenue from MEC until the second half of 2023 or early 2024. (Verizon)

“It’s purely an ROI calculation,” he said. “We think as our fixed wireless access and mobility business grows we’re going to need more fiber and we like to self-provision our own fiber.”

Sampath identified mobile edge computing (MEC) as a third growth vector for the business in addition to mobility and FWA. In fact, Verizon has revenue-sharing agreements with each of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google to integrate their cloud platforms with its network.

However, it appears that the MEC business is ramping up a little slower than Verizon had anticipated. Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Verizon, stated in 2020 that the company anticipated seeing appreciable MEC revenue in 2022. The public MEC business would continue to expand in 2022, with “more meaningful revenue contribution commencing in 2023,” according to CFO Matt Ellis during an investor day event in March 2022.

Sampath, though, stated this week that it doesn’t anticipate receiving any significant cash from MEC until the second half of 2023 or early 2024.

“On the MEC, what we are finding is demand is taking a little longer to go. And part of that is we are having to work back and integrate deeper into their operating system. So, it’s going to be much stickier when it does happen, but it’s going to take a little longer,” he concluded.

Ellis said in March Verizon is looking to MEC to drive $1 billion in growth by the end of 2025.