Verizon aims for 20M FiOS homes passed, but waits for housing, economic slump to clear

Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) COO Lowell McAdam would like to rev up the FiOS Fiber to the Home (FTTH) expansion engine, one that the service provider slowed down in the past two years due to the economic and housing slump.

Despite the deployment slowdown, McAdam, who will eventually take over as CEO when Ivan Seidenberg retires later this year, said that Verizon isn't turning away from its ultimate plan to pass 18 million homes with FiOS, a number that could increase to up to 20 million homes.  

During Q1 2011, Verizon added 207,000 net FiOS Internet and 192,000 net FiOS TV additions, bringing it to 4.3 million total FiOS Internet connections and 3.7 million total FiOS TV connections.

"What you saw was a big push to get scale. We are at 15 million (homes passed), moving to 16 now," McAdam said during a recent tour of Tampa, Fla. "As you get greater penetration, you open up more areas. The ceiling for us is around 20 million. We'll be there in the next couple years."

One market in Verizon's territory that probably won't be seeing a major FiOS deployment any time soon is Florida's Tampa Bay region, due to the amount of foreclosed homes in the area. Verizon's FiOS deployment in Pinellas County is relegated to the north and 4,500 homes in St. Petersburg.

For now, Tampa Bay area residents will have to continue to contend with the area's cable operator, Bright House, and satellite operators to get their TV service.

"Florida was hit very hard by the housing slump," McAdam said. "You don't want to (connect more neighborhoods and) strand more capital investment until you believe the economy is starting to turn."

Overall, Verizon plans to take a "cautious" approach to future FiOS build outs with a greater emphasis on reaching more of the multitenant dwelling unit (MDU) segment.

For more:
- Tampa Tribune has this Q&A article
- and this article

Related articles:
Verizon's Q1 wireline results get EBITDA boost from FiOS and enterprise services, but revenue misses forecasts
Verizon FiOS deployment drive to focus on established communities 
Verizon's Q4 revenue slips slightly while broadband, business revenue grow

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