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Verizon may not be hurting for a content acquisition, but the company still sounds like it will be hungry for deals in the new year, analysts from BTIG and Wells Fargo said Wednesday.

According to BTIG’s Walter Piecyk, Verizon execs in a meeting with sell-side analysts on Tuesday said the carrier has an eye toward transactions that will add scale, but noted Verizon isn’t planning to go after rumored targets CBS or Dish. One deal Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam didn’t dismiss, though, was the acquisition of Charter Communications.

Piecyk said McAdam believe such a transaction “makes industrial sense,” but would depend on regulatory and debt issues.

The idea of a Verizon bid for Charter was floated by Chris Hohn, founder of hedge fund TCI last week, but was quickly shot down by Recon Analytics’ Roger Entner as a move incompatible with Verizon’s demonstrated strategy of shedding FiOS and landline properties.

However, Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said a play for Charter or another fiber buy shouldn’t be ruled out of the cards for Verizon just yet. According to Fritzsche, a lot of the possibility of a fiber acquisition centers around Verizon’s emphasis on getting ahead of the market on 5G.

“VZ is indeed taking a very different path than its nearest competitor (T). We get the sense there is more going on with the forward looking strategy than meets the eye. We believe this centers more around fiber and other scale building deals than content or media,” Fritzsche wrote in a Wednesday note. “We can't help but wonder if VZ fiber strategy involves more than XO (expected in Q1'17. We would not be surprised if VZ pursues other such (likely bigger) fiber acquisitions in 2017 as it would be in line with comments about building scale in key verticals. Fiber is clearly a major part of the 5G push but it also has implications for enterprise and SMB penetration.”

While Verizon is still at work on its LTE network – and, according to Piecyk is planning to begin deployments of its AWS-3 spectrum in 2017 – the carrier appears laser focused on 5G and gaining the upper hand against competitors. Piecyk noted McAdam thinks Verizon can achieve 30 percent penetration with 5G broadband, while Fritzsche observed Verizon’s belief that it has a two-year head start on 5G over the competition thanks to its spectrum holdings, fiber investment, and small cell densification work.

Given that McAdam and other Verizon execs have previously stressed initial 5G deployments will be fixed wireless use cases that are expected to generate a hefty return on investment, and that the carrier is planning to begin pre-commercial 5G trials in the first quarter of next year, maybe the idea of a fiber buy isn’t as outrageous as it might seem.

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