CES 2011: Verizon: 'We're Changing the Game Again'

LAS VEGAS-- Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg views the recent launch of his company's 4G network and the accompanying barrage of wireless devices announced this week as the linchpin of an entertainment and data revolution that's fundamentally changing how consumers interact with themselves and their content.

"This is the single biggest transformative idea that we've had to deal with," he told attendees during a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show. "We're part of something bigger than ourselves. The key is how do to make it simple and easy for consumers."

Seidenberg and a cast of other industry bigwigs devoted most of the address to evangelizing the potential of the LTE (long-term evolution) standard to deliver unprecedented volumes of data and content to consumers as well as the challenges of simplifying applications and devices so, as Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes put it, "customers don't need a Phd" to take advantage of these technological advances.

Seidenberg said that wireless data is more than doubling every year and smartphones usage is growing at almost 90 percent a year, putting a strain on existing 3G wireless networks and creating enormous demand for 4G networks that will power the next generation of smartphones and tablet PCs. He said the number of connected devices will explode from about 4 billion this year to more than 60 billion by the end of the decade.

"The more we infuse consumer electronics with the power and intelligence of high-speed networks, the faster we'll create new demand and drive growth in this industry," he said.

While most of the attendees were surely disappointed there was no mention of if or when a Verizon iPhone would be released -- and maybe just as important if it will be a 3G or 4G device, Verizon did trot out Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI) CEO Sanjay Jha to talk up his company's new Honeycomb-powered Xoom tablet PC. Jha also touted the freshly minted Motorola Droid Bionic, which along with the Xoom, is poised to eventually take full advantage of Verizon's 4G backbone, Google's mobile OS and beefed up processing prowess.

Launched on Dec. 5, Verizon's LTE network "changes the game," according to Verizon COO Lowell McAdam, making it possible for users to tap into the "full-blown mobile broadband experience we've predicted for years."

"All 3G is not created equally," McAdam said. "LTE amps up mobile speeds by 10 times and cuts latency in half." He added that LTE is now available in 38 markets spanning about one-third of the U.S. market and the company plans to double its coverage in the next 18 months.

Verizon's FiOS broadband content delivery network is now available in more than 15.4 million U.S. homes and will grow to about 18 million homes. The build out, combined with its 4G LTE network, its existing 3G network and content deliver and a storage services through cloud , all speak to what the company's mandate to delivery content and services to anyone, anywhere on any device.

"We didn't do it for bragging rights," McAdam said. "We did it to transform the broadband experience."

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes spoke to this "TV anywhere" theme, noting that despite initial fears that the Internet would erode the television model, viewership has never been higher and he argues that the variety and quality of content has never been better.

"The first Golden Era was when the TV was invented," he said. "The second is now."

"We're in the middle of the best programming explosion in more than a generation," Bewkes added. "All of this content is going on-demand and in higher quality. It's an explosion of vitality that's moving to every other screen you have in addition to your TV."

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Verizon, CES, Motorola, 4g, LTE