Verizon CEO: Majority of 5G sites running on telco's own fiber

Verizon
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg says the telco met all of its goals last year despite the pandemic, and that it now has most of its 5G sites on its own fiber. (Verizon)

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said on Tuesday's fourth quarter earnings call that the majority of its 5G sites are now running on the telco's own fiber.

Through its One Fiber project, which has been ongoing for several years, Verizon has long targeted owner's economics by using its own fiber instead of leasing it. Last year, Verizon announced the nationwide launch of its 5G service, which now includes covering 230 million points-of-presence across 2,700 cities.

"We are migrating our 4G sites where it's a good return on investment for our own fiber," Vestberg said on the earnings call. "And over time, we will also open up these opportunities for resell to our enterprise customers and wholesale (customers). So I think that we are seeing that benefit already on the 5G build because we are using our own fiber to get the full impact. "

Vestberg said Verizon still had several years left on its fiber build-outs and that it would continue to deploy fiber where it makes sense from an ROI perspective.

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Verizon's One Fiber project combined all of the telco's fiber needs and planning into one project. It allows Verizon to plot out its fiber uses cases and purchasing plans across all of its sectors. In addition to densification of the wireless network and enabling wireline access, having fiber deep is key for supporting radio access networks (RAN) as well as provisioning an increasing number of small cells.

Verizon's Q4 numbers

In a year that was beyond the pale by almost any measure—due to the pandemic—Verizon emerged from 2020 in relatively good shape by meeting all of its goals, according to Vestberg.

In the fourth quarter, Verizon added 92,000 Fios internet subscribers, which was a marked increase from the 35,000 net adds in the fourth-quarter of 2019.

"Total Fios internet net additions of 95,000 was the best fourth quarter we've had since 2014 and reflected strong demand for our gigabit offering," said Verizon CFO Matt Ellis, of the combined net broadband additions across the consumer and business sectors, during the earnings call.

Verizon lost 72,000 Fios video subscribers in the quarter, but had 703,000 total postpaid wireless net additions across its consumer and business units, with 279,000 postpaid phone net additions.

Verizon's revenue for the fourth quarter was $34.7 billion, which exceeded analysts' estimates of $34.43 billion. On the consumer side, revenue was down 1% year-over-year to $23.9 billion while business revenue was flat year-over-year at $8.1 billion.

"First of all, 2020 was a challenging year, and I can only say it I'm super proud (of) how Verizon responded to the changing environment during 2020," Vestberg said. "And we supported our customers, our employees and society in a way that I've never seen before. So all-in-all a great year. At the same time, we executed well on our strategy, and saw that we had a really good financial performance as well."

Going forward, Verizon said capital spending this year would be between $17.5 billion and $18.5 billion as it continues its fiber build-outs and expands its 5G millimeter-wave network.