Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg Encourages America to 'Think Big' When it Comes to Broadband

[Note: A transcript and other materials will be available in the online Verizon Executive Center.]

BOSTON - Verizon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ivan Seidenberg said Thursday (March 27) that technological innovation and investment are growth engines not only for the company, but for the country, and that the power of technology can be used to address the challenges in our society.

Speaking at the CEO Club of Boston, Seidenberg said, "Like all technology-driven businesses, we're big believers that investment and innovation are the keys to long-term growth.  That's just as true for our country as it is for our company.

"If we want our citizens to be able to compete for jobs and wealth in this global information economy, America needs to think big when it comes to broadband - doubling down on growth and encouraging investment that will rev up this vital growth engine."

In describing Verizon's initiatives in expanding broadband and wireless services, Seidenberg said the company is creating real and lasting value for its customers and shareowners.  Verizon's capital investment of about $17 billion a year is helping the company to be the best network company, he said. 

He noted that Verizon has spent $3 billion in Massachusetts - an important market for Verizon -- over the past five years, giving the state a communications infrastructure "that rivals the best in the world."  The company's wireless network offers voice and high-speed data services across the state.  In addition, the company recently announced a $200 million capital plan that will bring the company's all-fiber FiOS services to 30 more communities in the state, expand and upgrade high speed Internet access in western and central parts of the state, and create an additional 200 customer service jobs.

Cell Phone as 'Universal Remote'

In the wireless arena, Seidenberg said, "We see the cell phone becoming a kind of 'universal remote' that lets you manage all your digital content - music, video, news or voice --  and have it delivered anytime, anywhere, to whatever screen you have at hand." 

But he noted that "the innovation curve in wireless is just beginning," with the next generation of wireless technology to be embedded into all kinds of consumer electronics.  The company, he said, is taking steps to lead this next phase of growth by announcing plans to deploy a fourth-generation wireless network, sponsoring an open network conference for inventors and manufacturers, and acquiring new spectrum to provide the capacity for these next-generation services.

With the company's continued success in the rollout of FiOS and the wireless initiatives, "We are tremendously excited about the growth prospects in our industry," Seidenberg said.  But he noted that the impact of Verizon's investment in network technologies "creates ripples of economic opportunity" that go well beyond the company and the telecom field, with media providers, programmers, software developers, and hardware manufacturers working to put new capacity and services to work for consumers.

"That's how innovation works," he said.  "When we innovate, our partners, suppliers, even our competitors, innovate."

Seidenberg gave credit to governments for letting the capital markets work in the wireless and cable industries.  "The result of pro-investment policies like these has been hundreds of billions' worth of investment, thriving competition and lots of innovation and value being created for customers," he said.  "Now, as we stand on the brink of a second great phase of technology-driven growth, the last thing we need is to discourage the very investment that will make growth possible.

"In a time of economic uncertainty, it's critical that we have a stable environment for long-term, value-creating investment," he said. 

Noting that tax increases or anticipatory regulations could hamper growth and international competitiveness, Seidenberg suggested that governments "be focused on breaking down barriers to capital formation, not erecting new ones."

As an example, Seidenberg suggested that a streamlined video-franchising process in Massachusetts would help to bring cable choice and competition faster to consumers.

On a broader basis, he said, companies and governments can use the power of technologies to create whole new industries and address the social issues of our time.

He credited Massachusetts with developing a billion-dollar biotech initiative that would provide the region with a jumpstart in industries that have the potential to find new sources of fuel, engineer new drugs and revolutionize agriculture.

Seidenberg, who is chairman of the Business Roundtable's Health and Retirement Task Force, said that health care information technology is one example among many of how technology and further investment can be put to work for the greater good.  Stating that health care is one of the few sectors of the economy not revolutionized by information technology, Seidenberg cited the state's initiatives in expanding access to health care, and the proposed state and federal legislation to introduce and set standards for electronic medical records.

"What we need now is the political will to move the ball forward immediately," he said. "As we use our technology to address the big social challenges of our time, we will only become a more vibrant force in the world and in the economy in the years to come." He continued:

"A healthy communications industry is vital to America.  We can slow this value-creating engine down with new taxes and regulatory burdens, if we're not careful.  Or we can rev it up -- by encouraging investment, stimulating innovation, and working together to apply America's unparalleled ingenuity and technological know-how to deliver essential public services and create a better society for our customers and citizens."

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 66 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.