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ATLANTA - The telecommunications industry's primary goal should be to get the most technology into the hands of the greatest number of people as quickly as possible, Verizon Vice-Chairman Lawrence T. Babbio said during a keynote speech at the SUPERCOMM conference here today.
Noting that increased deployment of technology is a key driver in the nation's economy, Babbio said, "For our industry to regain its momentum and to put the full power of communications to work in creating economic growth, we need to address new challenges - technical, strategic, and regulatory challenges - that are holding progress back."
He said these challenges are as follows:
- The industry must come up with products and services that are convenient, controllable and secure, and that enable consumers and business customers to benefit from new technology without stranding their existing telecom investments or disrupting customers' lives.
- The industry must continue to accelerate broadband deployment and that means more than just DSL (digital subscriber line) deployment. The industry must create a new Internet architecture that drives the next round of innovation in the information technology business. Verizon is in a good position to lead broadband deployment with half of the company's 61 million access lines already equipped for DSL and upcoming trials of broadband fixed wireless technology, Babbio said.
- The industry needs a regulatory framework that encourages - not discourages - companies like Verizon from investing in broadband.
"We're pushing for policies that take off the shackles," Babbio said. "We're eager to level the playing field so that telecommunications companies and cable companies can compete on equal terms to get broadband into every American home and business.
"It's time that we allow the companies like Verizon - with the capital, the customers, the technology, and the proven business models - to fully invest in the broadband future and build out the network as the market dictates - not the regulators."
Babbio said his confidence that Verizon and the industry will overcome those challenges springs from the fact that Americans continue to adopt technology at an astonishing rate. He noted the dramatic growth of customers now using wireless and Internet services - services that have grown to almost one billion users each over the last 15 years. In addition, he said, over 10 million homes have broadband service and Americans now depend heavily on technologies such as personal digital assistants, e-mail, pagers and cable telephony.
He also pointed to recent studies that show the average Internet user now spends 29 minutes each day using e-mail compared to 45 minutes on the phone. The use of instant messaging and transmitting voice calls over the Internet also continue to grow dramatically.
"These statistics and others point to a clear and powerful shift in our industry. While traditional measures of volumes such as access lines and minutes of use are going down, the demand for communications overall is going way up," Babbio said.
"For traditional communications companies, the implication is clear: We must continue to do what we've been doing since the dawn of the wireless and Internet era," he said. "We're going to have to continue reinventing ourselves in order to meet the demands of a changing industry. We're going to have to offer compelling new products over a world-class network, and we're going to have to do it with the greatest possible efficiency and the highest level of service."
To meet the growing demand in all communications, Babbio said Verizon has for years invested billions of dollars to equip its wireline network for the Internet era. Verizon now serves 67 of the top 100 American markets with some 61 million access lines, over half of which are already equipped for DSL. The company now has 8.2 million long-distance customers and over 1.4 million DSL customers. The Verizon network features 5,400 central offices, 8.6 million miles of fiber optics, over 10,000 routers and 41,000 self-healing SONET fiber-optic rings.
"The Verizon network, I'm proud to say as it exists right now, is vital to the very life of this nation," Babbio said. "It responded to the Sept. 11 attacks by immediately re-routing hundreds of thousands of circuits and throughout the crisis we didn't miss one single emergency 9-1-1 call."
Verizon's current technology plans include changing its network over time from one based on circuit switching to one based on packet-switching, broadband access and more widespread use of optical technology.
"This architecture, endowed with Internet protocols, will allow us to deliver on the decade-old dream of convergence -- the combination of the PC, telecommunications, television and other technologies -- into an experience that's accessible to everyone on a wireline or wireless basis," Babbio said.
Babbio said he also has confidence in the industry because of the diversity of companies that exist, along with their different agendas and interests. Despite these differences, he noted the importance of the industry working to get the most technology into the hands of the most people and fast. "That's what it's all about. That's what we're working for. That's what will energize us, rally us and get us back to center stage in the great technological revolution that's engulfing the world," he said.
As vice chairman of Verizon, Babbio leads the company's domestic wireline business as well as the company's long-distance, information technology, procurement services and technology research groups.
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of Mr. Babbio's speech
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 133.8 million access line equivalents and approximately 29.6 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. With more than $67 billion in annual revenues and nearly 248,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.