Verizon To Invest $3 Billion In Broadband Rollout

By Joseph Palenchar On Jan 19 2004 - 8:00am




Promising to create an "all broadband, all the time lifestyle" for subscribers, Verizon chairman Ivan Seidenberg announced plans to invest $3 billion during the next two years to deploy nationwide 300-500kbps cellular-data service.

During his CES Industry Insider presentation Seidenberg also said Verizon plans to accelerate the conversion of its local and long-distance land-line network to high-speed packet data, and install fiber-optic lines to homes to deliver data at speeds of 10-20Mbps.

He outlined the strategy during the presentation, where Seidenberg also announced a first-half, network-wide launch of a new service called iobi. The service links a subscriber's home-, business-, and cellular-phone services to one another and to the Web to provide more control over daily communications.

Seidenberg didn't disclose when all of Verizon's network would be converted to packet switching and fiber, but the packet technology would make it possible for Verizon to offer integrated, voice, data and video services over its network. Packet-data switching would enable the company to transmit voice calls by using voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP), dramatically expand the network's voice and data capacity, and enable Verizon to deliver video services to homes. Packet switching would also enable such new services as voice mail with video and higher-than-DSL-speed data service.

By the end of the year, the company will run fiber to 1 million homes and small businesses, Seidenberg added.

With iobi, subscribers will be able to use a personal Web page to view calls made to all of their phone numbers, return the calls, manage network-stored contact lists and personal calendars, and select and play back voice-mail messages left on any of their phones, Seidenberg said. The Web page could be viewed through any browser-equipped PC or wireless handheld device or on a Verizon-provided touchscreen-equipped cordless home phone/DSL router due later his year.

The rollout of the new iobi service isn't dependent on the rollout of packet switching or fiber, Seidenberg told TWICE.

With iobi, consumers will also be able to program the network to send a text message to a PC or cellphone to alert them to calls to their home or office.

The network-based service will "know where you are, your contacts, and your devices," and it will "make one device talk to other devices in different modes," Seidenberg said.

Also with iobi, consumers will be able to program the network to call-forward a call during a preset period to any one of the user's phone numbers and program the network to convert voice-mail messages to text for delivery to a PC or cellphone. It will also simplify the set up of a conference call.

To go with the service, Verizon plans second-half availability of a home cordless phone with color touchscreen in its base to access and display an iobi subscriber's home page. The phone, called Verizon One, incorporates a DSL modem and Wi-Fi router to create a wireless PC network in the home. It also includes a videocamera to record video messages for family members or make video calls to other Verizon subscribers. Via caller ID and a map display, subscribers will be able to view the location of a land-line caller or a cellular caller whose phone is GPS-equipped.

As part of Verizon's broadband-everywhere strategy, Seidenberg announced plans to expand CDMA EV-DO (EVolution Data Optimized) cellular-data service from two markets to all Verizon Wireless markets through 2005. The service will be available throughout "significant portions" of Verizon's cellular footprint beginning in the summer, and additional markets will be rolled out through 2005, he said.

The service, BroadbandAccess, will deliver data at average speeds of 300-500kbps with peaks of about 2MB and will be marketed to consumers and businesses. In the coming months, a single EV-DO PC Card will be complemented by multiple EV-DO phones, additional PC Cards\and office modems. The service will allow for faster file transfers to laptop PCs and accelerate downloads to phone handsets.

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