Verizon CEO on rising competition: Bring it on

CEO Lowell McAdam touts Verizon's 4G LTE lead and says he is still seeing momentum in the fourth quarter.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam
James Martin/CNET

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam isn't afraid of his competitors' efforts to raise their game; he welcomes the moves.

"My view is, bring that stuff on," he said during an investor conference today. "I mean, we have got a great network, and I think it will be good for consumers and so it is good for the industry."

McAdam touted the large lead Verizon enjoys when it comes to its 4G LTE deployment, which he credits for the wireless business scooping up market share when it comes to lucrative contract customers. He believes the other national carriers are well behind and will take a while to catch up.

"Now, I have built networks my whole career, and you don't make up the kind of lead that we have got in a couple of quarters," he said.

The other carriers have been putting more money into their networks, whether it's AT&T's recently unveiled $14 billion Project Velocity IP program, Sprint Nextel's Network Vision plan, or T-Mobile USA's network upgrade and 4G LTE move.

Even if the other carriers catch up on coverage, they still need to catch up on user experience, he said, adding that by then, Verizon will be "looking at 5G and 6G networks."

Sprint is also looking at a potential white horse in Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son. McAdam said Son was a "delightful guy" and "a lot of fun."

"I expect he is going to bring some things in, like content, that will be different," McAdam said.

Overall, he believes the competition will get stronger, which is healthy for the industry and something Verizon is ready for, McAdam said.

Verizon reported one of the brighter results in the third quarter when it came to customer growth, and McAdam said that should continue in the fourth quarter. Verizon also benefited from the rise in consumer activity during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the carriers had both good availability and healthy demand.

Also helping are Verizon's shared-data plans, which McAdam said have performed better than expected and have also helped convince consumers to buy connected tablets.

The shared-data plan was partly a reaction to exploding data traffic, since it places limits on usage. McAdam said that next year he wouldn't be surprised if applications came out where a third-party would pay for the bandwidth, freeing up unlimited usage for the consumer. He said discussions on that topic were ramping up now.

Also in trials on Verizon's wireline side is the company's joint venture with Redbox to deliver online video. The service is in tests with employees now but will launch later this month through December as a beta for a limited number of customers.

"So we are cautiously optimistic," he said. "Until you are out there commercial for six months or so, you don't really know how to judge that."

Unlike some of the other pay-TV providers, Verizon has shown a willingness to dive into online video, or so-called over-the-top streaming services, which aren't part of the typical cable TV package.

"I think again it gives us the kind of platform that we can build on going forward if over-the-top plays become far more relevant across the country."