Verizon’s message at Fiber Connect, taking place here in Orlando this week, was music to the fiber broadband ecosystem’s ears. Fiber is back at Verizon, and in a big way, according to Kyle Malady, SVP and chief network officer of wireline for Verizon.
“All the cards are lining up for us to double down on fiber again,” Malady said during his keynote address this morning. Malady said balancing capex requirements in a world of 4G, pending 5G, and other key network initiatives may have given the appearance that Verizon was scaling back on fiber investments. But that has now changed and you can thank wireless for it.
“Fiber is basically the nervous system of the networks of the future,” Malady said and Verizon is making big investments in it. He cited recent announcements with Corning and other fiber suppliers that Malady said has the carrier buying enough fiber to string to “Mars and back.”
This doubling-down in fiber is not driven by expanding Fios. It’s driven by the need to densify Verizon’s network for 5G. But FTTP applications will be a benefit of this densification. Because of 5G, Verizon will need to feed small cells located at approximately 1,000-foot intervals in urban applications.
Those small cells will require gigabit capable backhaul, which is best delivered through a deep fiber network, says Malady. As a result, Verizon is changing their approach to fiber. They are adding many more strands as they lay this fiber, leading to the ability to offer FTTP services as they accommodate their small cell-laden 5G network. “All applications can be served out of one fiber sheath,” said Malady.
They call it One Fiber and Boston, Mass. is their first market for this approach. It’s an approach that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam stressed at a recent industry conference, suggesting Verizon will have the largest national fiber footprint as a result of their 5G intentions.
“[5G] leads to a whole new architecture and will require massive bandwidth, deep fiber and flexible access at the edge,” said Malady. This 5G-driven architecture is one reason Verizon is moving to NG-PON2 for their next generation fiber platform.
“We’re going to skip XG-PON and move on to NG-PON2,” Malady said, citing mid-2018 as their commercial launch time frame. NG-PON2 is better suited for 5G because of its wavelength flexibility and capability to eventually scale up to 80 Gbps in capacity.
Malady hinted this new outlook on fiber could lead to Verizon entering markets outside of their traditional territory. He cited ongoing discussions with Sacramento, Calif. for a fiber broadband-based public-private partnership