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Verizon CEO Squashes Talk of Dish Network Bid

Tue, 05/20/2014 - 9:08am
Ben Munson

In the wake of AT&T’s $48.5 billion bid for DirecTV, talk immediately sprung up about the possibility of a Verizon Wireless and Dish Network merger. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, speaking at an investor conference, shut that down.

McAdam said there have not been any discussions with Dish about a possible tie up. He admitted that Dish has some interesting assets but concluded that Verizon is not interested in owning a satellite-TV company.

Dish’s AWS spectrum holdings could still be something of interest to carriers like Verizon, who just launched the XLTE branding for its AWS LTE network that supplements the carrier’s existing 700 MHz deployment.

“AWS makes sense for us,” McAdam said, confirming that Verizon will participate fully in the FCC’s upcoming AWS-3 auction. He was more tentative talking about the 600 MHz scheduled for 2015 but said Verizon was watching closely to gauge broadcaster interest.

Despite the carrier’s apparent non-interest in hooking up with a satellite-TV provider, Verizon still has a lot of irons in the fire when it comes to video.

McAdam said the OnCue video acquisition was more about putting in place an all-IP user interface. The linear video pure over-the-top play is not particularly attractive, McAdam said. Bundling channels and paying for content doesn’t make sense for Verizon.

But a VOD subscription model sounded much more appealing for that video model.

Verizon multicast is right now for single major events but McAdam admitted that it could work with four or five different channels. He pointed toward sporting events being the bread and butter for the technology so far but also said concerts presented a good opportunity.

In the home, McAdam seemed to downplay cable.

“FiOS broadband is more attractive than us that FiOS video,” McAdam said not worrying about cannibalizing customers. He joked that he bugged Google’s Larry Page for 1-gigabit applications because Verizon has the network in place for it already.

He added that Verizon’s FiOS Quantum TV upgrade has seen 50 percent adoption so far and he looked forward to Verizon’s gigabit offering and upselling customers to that.

With broadened profits on the horizon, ISPs are pushing back against the FCC possibly reclassifying them as Title II, which would give the Commission regulatory rule over ISPs. McAdam was part of a group of 28 CEOs that last week urged the FCC to not reclassify, saying that just the potential for reclassification in 2009-2010 helped erase 10 percent of the market cap from some ISPs.

Speaking today, McAdam didn’t sound immediately concerned about the reclassification prospect.

“I don’t think Title II is a legitimate threat at this point,” McAdam said, hoping that cooler heads would prevail in adjustments to ISP oversight.

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