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Verizon: Lay The Broadband; They Will Come

CHICAGO -- It's a broadband world, or at least it's soon to be a broadband U.S. if Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg has his way.

In a keynote address and in a session with press and analysts that followed here at NXTcomm, Seidenberg boasted of Verizon's success and revealed his thoughts on the iPhone and what it might mean for his network.

At the core of Seidenberg's bravado is Verizon's FiOS fiber-to-the-home network. Seidenberg advertised the platform and announced, in scripted fashion, the 1 millionth customer for the service that provides greater speeds and triple play convergence opportunities.

Oh, and it's good for America, too.

"Communications technology is the disruptive force in today's economy," Seidenberg said. "Every job created though broadband investment creates four jobs in the broader economy."

A lot of jobs are being created in laying the actual fiber. And the Verizon build-out of FiOS, according to Seidenberg, is expected to hit 9 million homes by the end of 2007 with up to 18 million by 2010.

Today Seidenberg noted that FiOS delivers up to 50Mbps (megabits per second) but it can scale up to 100Mbps.

"Whenever I visit [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] and others, we're convinced that there will be a need for more bandwidth," Seidenberg said. "The quicker we get it out there, the quicker people will create applications for it."

Seidenberg also said that among Verizon's 1 million FiOS Internet customers, they have higher average downloads than non-FiOS users on a per-household basis.

"When people have the bandwidth they download more," Seidenberg.

Seidenberg offered a mixed response in response to a question at the press analyst briefing about FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's statements yesterday at NXTcomm that implied support for Universal Service subsidies for broadband.

Though in general he is all in favor of more broadband everywhere and government support for expanding broadband, Seidenberg cautioned that it would need to be done in a way that would not disincentive the industry.

"I don't want old rules and old thinking," Seidenberg said. "We need to make sure we don't handicap the growth industry that we've worked hard to build."

Seidenberg also weighed in on the impact Apple's upcoming iPhone may have on Verizon, since it is his competitor AT&T that will be the wireless carrier for the device.

"We compete not just with AT&T but with all wireless carriers," Seidenberg said. "Where we compete we think we're very competitive."

He went on to note that Verizon has come out with four devices in the last month alone and they've talked about another 20 coming soon.

"What the iPhone will do is add excitement and stimulation to the whole space and we'll be a beneficiary in a different way," Seidenberg said. "We don't believe the iPhone changes that game plan for how we segment the market and how we attract the mobile user. AT&T is a very formidable company but we need to see the impact."