Optical/IP Networks

Verizon's Expensive Books

12:30 PM -- (NYSE: VZ) is exploring the possibility of selling its directory business, according to several media reports. The asking price: As much as $14 billion.

In the Google age, there is nothing more perplexing to me than the phone book.

Sure, I have a stack of phone books. So do most people. That's because they send 'em to me without my asking (is there any way to say no?). Clearly, the future is grim for this business, when you can just punch somebody's name in and find the number on the Internet.

$14B seems like an awful lot for a huge stack of heavy recycled paper pulp. And doesn't the move just smell a little bit desperate? After all, (NYSE: Q) jettisoned its directory business when it was in full crisis-mode, as have many other service providers. (See Qwest Sells Directory Service). The sell-your-directory play has become the industry equivalent of the onside kick.

According to the Wall Street Journal, revenue in the directory business has dropped from $4B to $2.5B in five years. Clearly, this isn't a great long-term business to be in.

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

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