Verizon is beefing up its fiber backbone ahead of 5G with a new three-year, $1.05 billion purchase agreement with Corning.

Announced Tuesday, the deal calls for Verizon to purchase from Corning up to 12.4 million miles of optical fiber each year starting in 2018 and running through 2020. The carrier’s minimum purchase commitment under the agreement is $1.05 billion.

Verizon said the deal is part of its efforts to “reinvent” its network architecture to a next generation fiber platform designed to boost 4G LTE performance and broadband delivery, as well as accelerate its 5G deployments.

Verizon’s Chief Supply Chain Officer Viju Menon observed the carrier identified a “shortfall in fiber supply” and noted work is under way to “forecast demand and fill supply gaps with existing suppliers.” The Corning deal, he said, will supply the optical fiber and hardware solutions to help Verizon hit its rollout targets.

"Corning's unique combination of capabilities delivers solutions that provide us with performance and cost advantages as we continue to expand our network coverage and capacity,” Roger Gurnani, Verizon's chief information and technology architect, added.

The Corning deal follows the close of Verizon’s $1.8 billion acquisition of XO Communications, which helped the carrier lock down metro fiber rings in 45 of the top U.S. markets.

Both acquisitions come in the context of a growing push to acquire fiber and spectrum to support small cell and fixed wireless 5G deployments. In 2016, IHS Markit found small cell shipments were up 43 percent, with North America coming in second place in terms of shipment volumes. The firm indicated the small cell market is expected to continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.4 percent through 2021.

While Verizon hasn’t given away its small cell plans, rival T-Mobile has indicated it has a “pipeline” in place to build around 20,000 small cells across the country. One thing Verizon has been very public about, though, are its plans to push ahead with fixed wireless 5G deployments.

The carrier in February announced it is trialing fixed wireless 5G technology in 11 markets in the first half of the year. Trials with Samsung in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington D.C. were all scheduled to kick off this month. These tests, Verizon indicated, will be used as a “proving ground” to determine what works and what doesn’t in terms of things like distance between transceiver and receiver, user equipment, and service delivery.

But the Corning acquisition won’t just be a positive for Verizon.

Well Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche on Tuesday noted the deal represents a “significant positive” for Dycom’s fiber construction business. The agreement could also set the stage for either a Verizon or AT&T bid for Zayo.

“VZ is a top customer for ZAYO, we note much (if not all) the revenue ZAYO gets from VZ is under multi-year contracts. While the incremental new revenue from VZ could get harder, we believe the VZ move today highlights the strategic need for this fiber asset,” Fritzsche noted. “Once the LVLT sale to CTL is complete, ZAYO will be the largest standalone fiber player with the widest North American reach. Checks also show T is getting more aggressive with its own fiber initiatives (both for small cell and laying dark fiber to the tower). ZAYO is well positioned to play a role here, in our view.”