Friday, December 8, 2017

Will Verizon Deploy its Deep Fiber Network Out of Region?

Sparring between various direct competitors in any business is unremarkable. Such marketing positions are perhaps even more nebulous than ever where it comes to 5G, as there are so many valid interpretations of what “5G” really means (practically and commercially).

It might also be helpful to remember that one fundamental principle, in such marketing wars, is that contestants emphasize as features what they can provide, while trying to downplay the features of what others can provide.

That should never come as a surprise. So too should we remember that what one person, firm or industry “cannot do” does not mean every person, firm or industry likewise “cannot do” something.

Still, there are some potential surprises about Verizon’s apparent decision to launch its 5G fixed wireless services outside its fixed network territory. The reason is that Verizon has talked about the advantages of its new deep fiber initiative as supporting multiple uses, and that logically would make most sense for in-region markets such as Boston, where the deep fiber network would support business customers, smaller business and small cell backhaul, but then also lay the foundation for consumer internet access.

The idea is that a single optical fiber trunking network will use separate wavelengths to support different use cases.

In the announced Sacramento fixed wireless market, it is not immediately clear that Verizon actually will deploy its deep fiber network.

It might make more sense to add incremental optical trunking on a more selective basis to support tower locations that have to be created or beefed up to support the fixed wireless initiative, as that might require less incremental optical trunking investment.

On the other hand, were Verizon to undertake a massive deep fiber network outside its fixed network footprint, that could lay the groundwork for an expanded assault on business markets out of region, using the mobile network assets.

In other words, if it invests in its own new optical fiber trunking network in Sacramento and other fixed wireless areas outside its core fixed network footprint, Verizon would have the ability to essentially become a full-fledged local access alternative for the first time, out of region.

It is not yet clear which of those deployment scenarios actually will happen. On the other hand, it is understandable that competitors might try to disparage the effort. Some other major competitors are not in position to do anything similar (either because capital is not available or there is no synergy with an existing fixed network).

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