Verizon CEO Seidenberg Speaks to SUPERCOMM and the FCC

SUPERCOMM — The industry is finally realizing the fruits of its long labors to bring the advantages of technology to the public, said Ivan Seidenberg, chairman and CEO at Verizon Communications, in his keynote address at SUPERCOMM 2009 in Chicago.

He urged the FCC not to stifle the progress, innovation and competition that has gotten the industry to this point.

“From where I stand, the current era of communications is one of the most innovative and dynamic of our proud history,” Seidenberg said. He added that three years ago the talk at SUPERCOMM (then NextComm) was about IP. Two years ago it was TV and the Internet; last year it was everything connected by 4G, and today, we are seeing the blending of it all.

“We’ve seen the economy boom and bust and it doesn’t matter. Communications companies are still doing what we’ve always done. Investment and innovation are more important than ever,” Seidenberg said. “And the key to a smart economy is smart technology that can change business models and change society.”

With wireless data traffic doubling every year, the enterprise space growing and global IP traffic increasing over 40 percent annually, Verizon invested $80 billion in the last five years.

“With net investment at its lowest level in years, this level of investment is astounding,” he said, adding that 500,000 jobs are created with every $10 billion invested in broadband. He said this is because the technology enabled by the network is inherently productive.

To accelerate this change, Verizon’s open development initiative has certified more than 60 devices to run on its network. It plans to have a 4G app store running by the end of the year and is currently partnering with Google to develop smart devices based on Android.

“A combination of increasingly powerful networks and edge devices is [providing] a whole new way to run the home, the enterprise or the economy,” Seidenberg said.

He quoted Newsweek, saying we are in a new kind of recovery and IBM saying it was a smart recovery. “Either way,” he said, “Broadband must be part of the solution for the big issues we face as a society.”

He added that we have barely begun to explore how broadband can revolutionize education.

However, he said the prospect of connecting everyone on Earth is not clear. The terms of the Net Neutrality debate are extremely troubling, he said. “Proponents have this world view that companies like Verizon occupy a different part of the [ecosystem.]” They believe the network is just dumb pipes for their applications.

“This is a mistake,” he said, as much to the audience as to the FCC preparing to make rulings on the subject tomorrow. “They fundamentally misread how innovation happens. And this undermines sound management practices.”

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