Verizon CEO Congratulates Industry for Innovation and Investment During Recession

Touting the power of "high-I.Q. networks" and applications to create jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and improve healthcare and education, Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg told an industry conference Wednesday (Oct. 21) that "we have the opportunity to create massive change on a scale the world has never seen before."

In a keynote address at SUPERCOMM 2009, Seidenberg said the key is to continue the private investment and technological progress that has made today's communications market "one of the most dynamic and innovative" ever.

"We've invested more than $80 billion over the last five years to build these platforms for growth - and that's Verizon alone," he said. "In fact, if you exclude real estate, investment in information, communications and technology accounted for an astonishing 43 percent of all capital investment in the U.S. last year."

According to the Verizon executive, "this investment and innovation has never been more important than it is right now," given the global recession and the need for economies to become smarter and more productive.

"In short, the combination of increasingly powerful networks and ever-more intelligent edge devices is a whole new way to run a home, an enterprise, a community or an economy," Seidenberg said. "That's why broadband, wireless and global IP technologies must be at the heart of our search for real economic growth and real competitive advantage for the future."

Seidenberg cautioned that "while this future is imminent, it is not inevitable, and the decisions we make today - as an industry and as a country - will determine whether the benefits of these transformational networks will be felt sooner or much, much later."

One day before the Federal Communications Commission plans to release its order on network neutrality, the Verizon executive took issue with "proponents of net neutrality [who suggest] that network providers like Verizon and applications providers like Google, Amazon and others occupy fundamentally different parts of the Internet ecosystem - a binary world of 'dumb pipes' on the one hand and 'smart applications' on the other."

"This is a mistake, pure and simple: an analog idea in a digital universe," he said. "It fundamentally misreads how innovation happens in a dynamic and collaborative industry.

"Our industry has shown that we can work with the government as well as our partners and competitors to achieve mutually desirable goals of more competition, consumer choice and broadband expansion. But we can't achieve these ends if we interrupt the flow of private capital and delay the cascading productivity impacts of a more networked world. We can't create smart economy by dumbing down our critical infrastructure," Seidenberg said.

He warned against "pitting network providers and applications developers against each other in a zero-sum game, when the real promise of broadband is an expanding pie for everybody."

"Rather than impose rigid rules on a rapidly changing industry, the FCC should focus on creating the conditions for growth," he said. "And we need to protect consumers by insisting on transparency in the provision of products and services by all Internet providers, including applications developers."

Seidenberg also suggested increasing spectrum availability, streamlining the process for cell tower siting, and overhauling universal service subsidies and the payment system for exchanging telecommunications traffic.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 87 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.