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Verizon CEO: Our NY wireless problems are nearly fixed

Verizon's Lowell McAdam weighs in on its wireless issues in New York, AT&T's cheaper no-contract plans, and more.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
Expertise Mobile, 5G, Big Tech, Social Media Credentials
  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
2 min read
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. James Martin/CNET

Verizon has been "fortifying" its wireless network in New York and addressing the coverage problems there, according to CEO Lowell McAdam.

"We're now back to where we want to be," he said during an investor conference on Monday.

His comments come nearly a month after Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo acknowledged that Verizon was facing wireless network pressure in big cities.

McAdam, however, specifically referred to the issues in New York, which he called "its own beast" of a market.

The company identified 49 cell sites in the New York area that have been overwhelmed with the traffic. So far, Verizon has addressed 42 of those problematic sites and begun deploying additional spectrum, which will ease the capacity constraint and likely yield higher speeds.

"We have a plan to stay ahead of that," he said of the expected growth in wireless traffic. "I think it's a short-term blip."

The issues haven't really affected Verizon's ability to grow and keep its customers, and McAdam said it hasn't been affected by the increased competition on the low end.

"We have not been one to chase the low end of the market," he said.

AT&T, meanwhile, recently lowered the price of its no-contract plans, separating the price of the phone and the price of the plans. McAdam said the changes represented slight adjustments that address the low end of the market, and he didn't think Verizon would follow, although he wouldn't completely shut the door on it.

"To the extend that we'll react, we'll react," he said.

McAdam also reiterated Verizon's intention to move to voice-over LTE, but would only say that Verizon was testing the service. Expected to become available next year, it will allow the company to move the spectrum currently dedicated to voice-over to data. For customers, he said there would be a suite of services, including enhanced video conferencing and HD voice.

On spectrum, McAdam said the company had enough wireless airwaves -- crucial for delivering data to customers -- to see it through 2017 and even 2018. Still, he said he was interested in the upcoming spectrum auctions.