Verizon Dumping Landlines?

UPDATED: Verizon is reportedly in discussions to sell up to 5 million phone lines in seven states.

The New York-based telecom is courting statewide divestiture of

1.6 million lines in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont along with 3.4

million lines in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, according to

The Wall Street Journal.

Verizon spokesman Robert Varettoni downplayed the reports,

saying the company is frequently approached and continually evaluates


The spokesman pointed to the $1.3 billion 2004 sale of

Verizon lines in Hawaii and an ill-fated attempt to shed traditional

phone lines in New York.

Ron Lataille, senior vice president of investor relations, told reporters on a webcast this morning that the company has been in discussions with various parties but that nothing is imminent.

“Our goal in the consumer space is to be more

heavily weighted toward broadband,” the executive told reporters.


Verizon continues to lose traditional phone customers, Verizon

Wireless showed 18 percent growth in the first quarter of this


According to Allen Nogee, analyst with In-Stat, wireline is on its way out.

“All these wireline service
providers are preparing for it,” he said. “It
won’t happen this year or next, but eventually wireline will go the
way of dialup modems.”

Although Lataille admitted buying out Verizon Wireless co-owner

Vodafone “will be a smart, strategic goal,” the Verizon executive

tried to put the brakes on any talk the potential sale of phone lines

would bankroll the buyout of Vodafone’s 45 percent share in the

jointly owned wireless provider.

“We don’t need to do anything now,” said Lataille. “There is no urgency to acquire their share at

any cost.”

The value of Vodafone’s stake in Verizon Wireless

reportedly is $40 million.

Asked if Verizon has had new talks with the European company,

Varettoni refused to comment, saying only “the ball is in Vodafone’s


“The reason why they may have difficulties to achieve an agreement is
obviously price,” said Thomas Huson of JupiterResearch.

The analyst
confirmed reports a gap remains between Verizon’s $38 million offer
and Vodafone’s $50 million asking price for its stake in the wireless

Any deal could also include Verizon’s stake in Vodafone Italy,
the analyst said.

Vodafone recently told it plans to remain in the U.S., calling Verizon Wireless “a very

successful partnership.”

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