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Seidenberg Sees Content Access Being Ubiquitous

Verizon chairman/CEO Ivan Seidenberg discussed the company’s progress during the past two years, and described the company’s vision of ubiquitous access to content, regardless of the device in his Industry Insider address on the opening day of CES on Jan. 5.

The company also offered several demos showing how digital content — including music from Verizon’s just-announced V Cast music service (see related story on p. 8) and FiOS TV — could be shared by cellphones, a Verizon One cordless multimedia base station, notebook PCs and digital televisions.

Seidenberg commented that since Verizon’s first International CES two years ago, cellphones have morphed into multimedia devices. “As customers started to message and text, to TiVo and blog, passive media became interactive,” he said. “As we delivered more and more bandwidth … physical experiences started to become virtual experiences. And as connectivity became part of every consumer electronics device, customers started to share their experiences in real time … turning ‘my space’ into ‘our space’ and ‘my house’ into ‘our town.’”

Approaching delivery of the industry’s “Holy Grail” of 100 megabits throughput, he said, “is good news for the electronics industry, because it fuels the market for faster home PCs and high-definition TVs.”

Verizon’s fiber network now reaches 800 communities in 16 states across the country, reaching 3 million homes. “By this time next year we intend to double that to 6 million,” he said, with expectations to cover 18 million to 20 million homes and businesses by 2008/2009. Verizon’s FiOS Internet service now delivers speeds of 5 megabits, 15 megabits and 30 megabits downstream, and up to 5 megabits upstream

FiOS TV, which allows Verizon to compete with cable and satellite services, has now been rolled out in parts of Texas, Florida and Virginia, and will be launched in additional locations in Texas, plus New York, Massachusetts and California, later this month. The service offers 400 digital channels, 22 HDTV channels and 1800 video-on-demand titles. A demo showed the system’s interactive capabilities, including a colorful interactive programming guide, fantasy football information that could be presented while watching a game, and how using an onscreen menu, an incoming phone could either be answered, ignored or sent to voice mail.

Games are another focus for the company, Seidenberg said, “and Verizon is beginning to carve out a spec for ourselves in this $11 billion industry. The company’s new Verizon Game Network online service, described by Seidenberg as “our opening salvo,” is being backed by the company’s sponsorship of online tournaments and a professional players’ league.

Looking out to a 12-18-month road map, Seidenberg said Verizon will continue “to roll out networks that will push toward the high-tech vision of 100 megabits to the home and 3 megabits to the handset,” expand both FiOS Internet and FiOS TV, launch V Cast Music and other broadband multimedia services, “and innovate around the idea of convergence to make all these devices and networks work together, and give content providers new ways to reach their audiences.”

“Verizon’s job is to make sure that whatever great communications idea anyone can come up with, our networks can help make it happen.”