Light Reading

Verizon Eyes Independent, Converged Future

Sarah Thomas

Verizon's No. 1 priority in 2014 is to complete its spinoff from Vodafone and wow the market with integrated services made possible by its independence, Lowell McAdam, the carrier's chairman and chief executive, said Tuesday.

Speaking at a Citi conference, McAdam said that arranging the Verizon Wireless buyout from former parent Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) was the most significant move for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in 2013, and that getting the purchase closed is its first priority this year. The deal is on track to close this quarter following both companies' shareholder meetings this month, he said. (See: Vodafone Agrees to $130B Verizon Stake Sale.)

It might seem like business as usual for Verizon, since its co-parent had always been hands-off and overseas, but converged services are a huge priority now. Verizon has 5 million FiOS TV customers, more than 5 million broadband subscribers, a nationwide LTE footprint, and content relationships with big names like the National Football League. Combine those, and "we're a very logical [carrier] to take that and make it seamless across the different technologies," McAdam said.

"Five years from now, if we're just the wireless company we are today, then that hasn't been successful, even if it is financially," he said. "What makes it a home run is the ability to leverage every asset Verizon has and provide new services to customers than what they have today."

He didn't detail what new services that may mean, except to say mobile will be at the center of everything, covered in a layer of cloud and security, which McAdam called the hottest thing Verizon has going in its portfolio right now. He also said Verizon plans to explore partnerships with over-the-top content providers to see where a pure OTT play will take it. (See: Verizon: Major Apps Move Cloud-ward in 2014.)

This converged strategy will include stopping some products, like its joint venture with the cable companies, and refocusing on certain aspects of the enterprise market, which he called challenging. (See: Verizon, MSOs Kill Wireless JV and Why Verizon Needed a Cloud Reboot.)

When asked about competing on price and engaging in the customer-grabbing war that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. are waging, McAdam made it clear that approach is not for Verizon. In a jibe at AT&T, he said that real customer loyalty can't be bought with $200 credits -- those customers will just flee right back. (See: AT&T Lures T-Mobile Subs With $450 Promise.)

"If all four carriers have robust LTE networks, then we start to differentiate based on the solutions we provide customers and the service-level agreements," he said. "Price competition, going after each other's customers like that, I think is typically short lived."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
1/8/2014 | 3:16:42 PM
Re: Cloudy with gradual clearing?
I agree on the mobility angle; pulling all of Verizon Wireless in-house opens mobile more than anything else.  Mobile broadband opens a whole new kind of cloud model, one where you have to mate devices with internal processes to get super-fast, context-appropriate, answers to users' questions.  That builds a larger revenue stream based on services.  "All IP" by itself is really just a cost-converging approach.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
1/7/2014 | 5:38:54 PM
Re: Cloudy with gradual clearing?
I think a lot of the focus will be around linking the cloud services they are building with mobility, and doing it securely. I agree it all still sounds rather vague, but it also sounds like what AT&T is touting - an all-IP network, cloud-based intelligence and mobile endpoints, increasingly. 

I would expect Verizon to try to figure out how to continue to exploit the FiOS investment for consumers, MDUs and businesses.
User Rank: Blogger
1/7/2014 | 5:17:46 PM
Re: Cloudy with gradual clearing?
Ah yes, FiOS too. McAdam said again that they won't expand FiOS's footprint, but will work on improving its penetration, like in MDUs in NYC. So, any FiOS tie-ins will be limited by geography, which does seem counterintuitive.
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/7/2014 | 5:14:36 PM
Re: Cloudy with gradual clearing?
There are also some mixed messages about FiOS, as in, it's central to the overall plan, but there's no plan to expand footprint. Each of those points is understandable on its own, but together, not so much.
User Rank: Blogger
1/7/2014 | 5:07:49 PM
Re: Cloudy with gradual clearing?
Do you mean with what actual integrated services they will launch? I agree they need more clarity there, especially since --as you've said -- they can't even master an integrated bill. Video is the big one, of course, but Verizon's TV Everywhere initiatives haven't come to much yet either.
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/7/2014 | 4:20:09 PM
Cloudy with gradual clearing?
Verizon has been making a lot of statements lately. Taken separately, they make sense, but it's not always easy to put them together to figure out what the current thinking is. More clarity will be required at some point.
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