management’s discussion and analysis
of financial condition and results of operations
Verizon Communications Inc. (Verizon, or the Company) is a holding company that, acting through its subsidiaries is one of the world’s leading providers of communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies with a presence in over 150 countries around the world. Our offerings, designed to meet customers’ demand for speed, mobility, security and control, include voice, data and video services on our wireless and wireline networks. We have two reportable segments, Verizon Wireless and Wireline. Our wireless business, operating as Verizon Wireless, provides voice and data services and equipment sales across the United States using one of the most extensive and reliable wireless networks. Our wireline business provides consumer, business and government customers with communications products and services, including voice, broadband data and video services, network access, long distance and other communications products and services, and also owns and operates one of the most expansive end-to-end global IP networks. We have a highly skilled, diverse and dedicated workforce of approximately 193,900 employees as of December 31, 2011.
In recent years Verizon has embarked upon a strategic transformation as advances in technology have changed the ways that our customers interact in their personal and professional lives and that businesses operate. To meet the changing needs of our customers and the changing technological landscape, we are focusing our efforts around higher margin and growing areas of our business: wireless data, wireline data and strategic services, including cloud computing services.
Our strategy requires significant capital investments to acquire wireless spectrum, put the spectrum into service, expand the fiber optic network that supports our wireless and wireline businesses, maintain our wireless and wireline networks and develop and maintain significant advanced database capacity.
In our Wireless business, in 2011, strong customer and data services growth primarily driven by strong demand for smartphones and internet data devices resulted in revenue growth of 10.6% from 2010. At December 31, 2011, smartphones represented nearly 44% of our retail postpaid phone base, driving a 21% annual growth in data revenue, which accounts for 40% of Verizon Wireless’ total service revenue.
In 2010, we launched our fourth-generation (4G) Long-Term Evolution technology (LTE) mobile broadband network in 38 major markets, and as of January 19, 2012, we have deployed 4G LTE in 195 markets covering more than 200 million people throughout the country. We expect to deploy 4G LTE in virtually all of our current 3G network footprint by mid-2013. Our 4G LTE network is the fastest of its kind in the United States with speeds up to ten times faster than those of 3G broadband. As a result of our investment in 4G LTE and the shift to more data-centric devices, we expect to achieve both capacity improvements as well as a reduced cost per megabyte, which will allow us to hold or slightly improve our margins.
In Wireline, during 2011 compared to 2010, revenues were positively impacted by a 15.2% increase in strategic services revenue, which represented 48.7% of total Global Enterprise revenues at the end of 2011, as well as the expansion of consumer and small business FiOS services, which represented 51% of Mass Markets revenue at the end of 2011. To compensate for the shrinking market for traditional voice service, we continue to build the Wireline segment around data, video and advanced business services — areas where demand for reliable high-speed connections is growing. As more applications are developed for this high-speed service, we expect that FiOS will become a hub for managing a multitude of home services that will eventually be part of the digital grid, including not just entertainment and communications, but also machine-to-machine communications, such as home monitoring, home health care, energy management services and utilities.
In 2011, we acquired Terremark Worldwide Inc. (Terremark), a global provider of information technology infrastructure and cloud services. This acquisition enhanced our competitive position in managed hosting and cloud services offerings to business and government customers globally and is contributing to our growth in revenues. Additionally, in 2011 we acquired a provider of cloud software technology, which has further enhanced our offerings of cloud services. We expect our provisioning of cloud services to be instrumental to our future growth as it allows us to meet the evolving demands of our customers.
In December 2011, we entered into agreements to acquire Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum licenses held by SpectrumCo, LLC and Cox TMI Wireless. The aggregate value of these transactions is approximately $3.9 billion. The consummation of each of these transactions is subject to various conditions, including approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and review by the Department of Justice (DOJ). These spectrum acquisitions are expected to close in 2012.
In December 2011, we entered into commercial agreements with affiliates of Comcast Corporation, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications Inc. (the cable companies). Through these agreements, the cable companies and Verizon Wireless became agents to sell one another’s products and services and, over time, the cable companies will have the option, subject to the terms and conditions of the agreements, to sell Verizon Wireless service on a wholesale basis. In addition, the cable companies (other than Cox Communications Inc.) and Verizon Wireless have formed a technology innovation joint venture for the development of technology and intellectual property to better integrate wireline and wireless products and services. These commercial agreements and the formation of the joint venture are currently under review by the DOJ.
Investing in innovative technology like wireless networks, high-speed fiber and cloud services has positioned Verizon at the center of the growth trends of the future. By investing in our own capabilities, we are also investing in the markets we serve by making sure our communities have a fast, reliable infrastructure for competing in the information economy. We are committed to putting our customers first and being a responsible member of our communities. Guided by this commitment and by our core values of integrity, respect, performance excellence and accountability, we believe we are well-positioned to produce a long-term return for our shareowners, create meaningful work for ourselves and provide something of lasting value for society.
On December 31, 2011, Chief Executive Officer Lowell C. McAdam assumed the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors, thereby completing the succession plan that was put in place by our Board of Directors.
In the sections that follow, we provide information about the important aspects of our operations and investments, both at the consolidated and segment levels, and discuss our results of operations, financial position and sources and uses of cash. In addition, we highlight key trends and uncertainties to the extent practicable.
We expect that competition will continue to intensify with traditional, non-traditional and emerging service providers seeking increased market share. We believe that our networks differentiate us from our competitors, enabling us to provide enhanced communications experiences to our customers. We believe our focus on the fundamentals of running a good business, including operating excellence and financial discipline, gives us the ability to plan and manage through changing economic conditions. We will continue to invest for growth, which we believe is the key to creating value for our shareowners.
Connection and Operating Trends
In our Wireless segment, we expect to continue to attract and maintain the loyalty of high-quality retail postpaid customers, capitalizing on customer demand for data services and bringing our customers new ways of using wireless services in their daily lives. We expect that future connection growth will accelerate as we continue to introduce new smartphones, internet devices such as tablets, and our suite of 4G LTE devices. We believe these devices will attract and retain higher value retail postpaid customers, contribute to continued increases in the penetration of data services and keep our device line-up competitive versus other wireless carriers. We expect future growth opportunities will be dependent on expanding the penetration of our data services, offering innovative wireless devices for both consumer and business customers and increasing the number of ways that our customers can connect with our network and services.
In recent years, we have experienced continuing access line losses in our Wireline segment as customers have disconnected both primary and secondary lines and switched to alternative technologies such as wireless, VoIP and cable for voice and data services. We expect to continue to experience access line losses as customers continue to switch to alternate technologies. In the third quarter of 2011, we experienced a decline in our Wireline margin due to storm-related and work stoppage events that occurred in the quarter. However, we reduced our FiOS installation backlog caused by the storm-related events, and we expect to continue improving margins in the Wireline segment in 2012.
Despite this challenging environment, we expect that we will continue to grow key aspects of our wireline business by providing superior network reliability, offering innovative product bundles that include high-speed Internet access, digital television and local and long distance voice services, offering more robust IP products and services, and accelerating our cloud computing strategy. We will also continue to focus on cost efficiencies to attempt to offset adverse impacts from unfavorable economic conditions.
We expect to experience service revenue growth in our Verizon Wireless segment in 2012 primarily as a result of the growth of our postpaid customer base as well as continued data revenue growth driven by increased penetration of data services resulting from increased sales of smartphones and other data-capable devices. We expect that retail postpaid average revenue per user (ARPU) will continue to increase as an increasing proportion of our customers use smartphone devices with bundled voice and data service plans. However, we expect both retail postpaid ARPU and retail postpaid data ARPU growth to be adversely impacted by the ongoing declines in our average voice revenue per user, an expected decline in revenues from text messaging and an increase in the sale of lower priced packages for internet data devices, such as tablets, USB modems or Jetpacks, formerly known as ’Mobile Hotspots.” In addition, we have experienced ARPU dilution as a result of customers optimizing the value of their data packages for internet data devices, and we expect this trend to continue. We expect that our future service revenue growth will be substantially derived from data revenue growth as we continue to expand the penetration of our wireless data offerings and increase our sales and usage of innovative wireless smartphones and other data-capable devices.
During 2011, we experienced a significant increase in Wireless equipment and other revenue as a result of sales of new smartphone devices, including Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4S and our 4G LTE-capable devices. We expect that continued emphasis on increasing smartphone penetration will positively impact equipment revenue as these devices typically carry higher price points than basic phones.
We expect FiOS broadband and video penetration to positively impact our Mass Markets revenue and subscriber base but to continue to experience declining revenues in our Wireline segment primarily due to access line losses as a result of wireless substitution, along with a continued decline in our legacy wholesale and enterprise markets. However, we also expect continued growth of strategic services revenue as we derive additional revenues from cloud, security and other solutions-based services and customers continue to migrate their services to Private IP and other strategic networking services.
Operating Costs and Expenses
We anticipate our overall wireless operating costs will increase as a result of the expected increase in the volume of smartphone sales, which will result in higher equipment and sales commission costs. In addition, we expect content costs for our video services to continue to increase. However, we expect to continue to achieve other operating cost efficiencies through a number of cost savings initiatives to help control our overall operating costs. In addition, we continue to improve our processes across all business lines with a focus on improving productivity, which we expect will continue to contribute positively to our profitability.
Our 2012 capital program includes capital to fund advanced networks and services, including 4G LTE and FiOS, the continued expansion of our core networks, including our IP and data center enhancements, maintenance and support for our legacy voice networks and other expenditures to drive operating efficiencies. The amount and the timing of the Company’s capital expenditures within these broad categories can vary significantly as a result of a variety of factors outside our control, including, for example, material weather events. We are not subject to any agreement that would constrain our ability to control our capital expenditures by requiring material capital expenditures on a designated schedule or upon the occurrence of designated events. Capital expenditures in 2011 were $16.2 billion, as compared to $16.5 billion in 2010. We believe that we have significant discretion over the amount and timing of our capital expenditures on a company-wide basis.
Cash Flow from Operations
We create value for our shareowners by investing the cash flows generated by our business in opportunities and transactions that support continued profitable growth, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and usage of our products and services. In addition, we have used our cash flows to maintain and grow our dividend payout to shareowners. Verizon’s Board of Directors increased the Company’s quarterly dividend by 2.6% during 2011, making this the fifth consecutive year in which we have raised our dividend.
Our goal is to use our cash to create long-term value for our shareholders. We will continue to look for investment opportunities that will help us to grow the business. When appropriate, we will also use our cash to reduce our debt levels and buy back shares of our outstanding common stock, and Verizon Wireless may make distributions to its partners (see ’Cash Flows from Financing Activities-Other, net”).
We do not currently expect that legislative efforts relating to climate control will have a material adverse impact on our consolidated financial results or financial condition. We believe there may be opportunities for companies to increase their use of communications services, including those we provide, in order to minimize the environmental impact of their businesses.
We continue to be actively involved in labor negotiations with our unions. Many of our union-represented employees are currently working under an agreement indefinitely extending the contracts that expired in August 2011, with either the Company or the unions having the right to terminate the contract extension after providing seven days notice. The terms of any new contract will affect our future obligations to our employees for compensation and benefits.