Verizon Business inked a new "Network as a Service" (NaaS) agreement with Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), which operates more than 9,000 Walgreens- and Duane Reade-branded retail locations across the US.
The agreement includes several key elements:
- Verizon will provide two Internet connections to each of the stores, ensuring that one will stay connected to the Internet if the other one fails. Depending on the store's location, Verizon will provide the connections through its own fiber network, through wired networks provided by other telecom operators, or through its 4G and 5G wireless networks.
- Verizon will install a new Wi-Fi network inside each of the stores. The company said it will begin working in the first quarter of 2021 and expects the full, nationwide upgrade project to take roughly a year to complete.
- Verizon will provide SD-WAN and security services to WBA. Doing so will allow WBA to apply specific connection policies to specific applications across all of its stores – for example, the retailer could treat web-browsing traffic differently than video surveillance footage.
Verizon's Massimo Peselli, SVP of the operator's international and enterprise business development, said that WBA's new agreement with Verizon would allow the retailer to shift from a capex to an opex business model for its telecom expenses. WBA will pay for the services it needs when it needs them, rather than building out specific connections, applications and services.
"This will be the way we expect to commercialize our services" in the future, Peselli said of Verizon's NaaS offering.
Peselli added that, prior to WBA's agreement with Verizon, the retailer managed relationships with a wide range of connectivity and application suppliers. Now it will run everything through Verizon.
Peselli said Verizon's agreement with WBA won't initially include many of the hot-button issues that Verizon has been focusing on lately. It will not involve Verizon building a private network for WBA; it won't involve in-store 5G networks; and it will not include an edge computing component.
However, Peselli explained that each of those elements could be included in future negotiations between Verizon and WBA given that they can be provided "as a service."
"This solution will remove the complexity," Peselli explained. "This deal is the foundation."
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