RealTime IT News

Verizon Beats, Meets Year-End Targets

Verizon Communications Wednesday announced gains in digital subscriber line (DSL) and wireless digital phone subscribers, gains that show the incumbent telephone company is still able to successfully deploy advanced voice and data services in the what they call a regulation-heavy industry.

Verizon put a cap on 2001 with an estimated 1.2 million DSL customers and 29.4 million wireless phone customers with a net gain of 225,000 and 715,000 subscribers, respectively, in the fourth quarter. The DSL numbers are in line with their projections from earlier in the year and their wireless growth exceeded expectations.

In the long-distance telephone service department, Verizon ended a year of heavy politicking with various federal and state regulatory bodies for 271 (long distance certification) approval, netting 7.4 million long-distance customers around the U.S.

Verizon, and the other Baby Bells, have long sought the profits associated with long distance after the break up of Ma Bell in the early 80s. Most recently getting approval to provide service in Rhode Island, Verizon has now managed to put 41 states under their long-distance belt.

Denny Strigl, Verizon Wireless president and chief executive officer, said the gains were in line with expectations for the year.

"Fourth quarter growth was solid and in line with the disciplined strategy we set at the beginning of the year to focus on the quality and profitability -- not just the quantity -- of our customer base,'' Strigl said. "With our premier network, we want to ensure that we attract and retain customers who will use and value our product most."

Verizon Wireless spent more than $4 billion dollars in 2001 to increase their coverage footprint 13 percent around the nation and upgrade 20 percent of their network to allow for upcoming 2.5G and 3G data applications.

The wireless company, a venture with U.K.-based Vodaphone, is getting ready for an initial public offering (IPO) this spring.

Verizon's success in 2001 comes at a time when no one, including themself, would have thought it possible.

At the end of 2000, Verizon was going through some major growing pains, which resulted in major service and email outages that left customers without Internet connections for nearly a month in some cases.

Verizon executives also spent much of 2001 trashing the 1996 Telecommunications Act, saying the too-stringent regulations were strangling the company's incentive to roll out high-speed Internet services. Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours by lobbyists in Washington, D.C., were spent to push the maligned Tauzin-Dingell Broadband Bill, which would have effectively put the Telco Act in the wastebasket.

Charles R. Lee, Verizon chairman and co-chief executive officer, downplayed the regulation side of the story and focused on the challenges his employee's had to overcome to meet their targets, including repairing the massive damage caused to one of its collocation facilities and other businesses at Ground Zero in the 9-11 attacks.

With the stalled economy and in the aftermath of Sept. 11, Verizon's first full year of operation has been one of unprecedented challenge," he said. "Still -- through the steadfast commitment, skill and experience of Verizon employees -- we have continued to focus on execution and on the industry-leading profitability of our businesses. Today, we are a company grown stronger because of the challenges we overcame in 2001."

Verizon plans to give a full financial and operating run down of their operations during a conference call Jan. 31.