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Bob Varettoni

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It's Not the Same Old Song at Verizon

Posted: 05/23/2012 11:46 am

Pianist Glenn Gould notably recorded Bach's "Goldberg Variations" early in his career in 1955. He then recorded the same music in a more soulful way as a mature artist in 1981.

What brings this to mind is the recent three-part rant against the telecommunications industry by Huffington Post blogger Bruce Kushnick. The content was not surprising. The author, after all, has been writing variations on this same theme for nearly 30 years -- and many of the sentences written in 2012 read as if they had been written in 1983.

However, this is in stark contrast to Gould's later recordings where, by music alone, it's easy to tell that the world has changed over the years.

The initial blog was based on the author's own report -- "Verizon's State-Based Financial Issues & Tax Losses" -- which was outdated and erroneous in many ways. While it focuses on "rate-of-return regulation" (which ceased applying to Verizon wireline companies many years ago), it inaccurately portrays our financials (claiming $9 billion in wireline profitability in 2010 when our SEC filings reported $768 million); faults Verizon for getting a state income tax break in New York because the company does not make a profit on wireline services there, when, in fact, Verizon pays taxes in New York on gross receipts rather than income; misrepresents Verizon on New Jersey property taxes; makes baseless assertions about Verizon shifting assets and changing the way we report wireline access lines; and -- perhaps most absurdly, given financial realities -- suggests that Verizon wireline revenues subsidize Verizon Wireless.

The decline in landline phone use is written about as if it were only a conspiracy theory -- and this argument reaches a crescendo in the latest blog post that suggests that Verizon's more than $20 billion investment in FiOS fiber-to-the-home services may not even exist.

This simply isn't in tune with the reality of Verizon in 2012.

Verizon today is one of the largest private investors in America. In 2009-2011, while Verizon made more than $11.1 billion in tax payments, we also invested nearly $50 billion in technology infrastructure. This has created and sustained great U.S. jobs -- both in and outside of Verizon -- as the company has deployed innovative broadband technologies like FiOS.

While Verizon today is most known as a nationwide wireless company and is increasingly becoming known for international network capabilities, the previous blog posts here focused on Verizon as a local U.S. wireline company. This is part of our business where demand has fallen due to customer use of cell phones and phone service from cable companies and other competitors. Our base of traditional access line -- landline copper phone connections to homes and businesses -- is less than half of what it was in 2003.

And yet Verizon today is vibrant and profitable. We changed with the times. We shed businesses, such as printed phone directories, to focus on meeting and anticipating the changes in customer demand.

Today, on the wireline side, Verizon continues to serve many customers with copper-based telephone and Internet services. For income-eligible customers, this can cost as little as $1 a month. Meanwhile, Verizon is the only company in America to have invested in a future network to carry TV signals and high-speed Internet data. We will meet our commitment to provide this network to more than 18 million households and small businesses, having already extended the reach of our fiber-optic network to more than 16.7 million. This investment has come from shareholders, not ratepayers, and it has created great jobs and a bright future as we transform into a company focused on delivering the best in broadband and entertainment services to customers.

FiOS Internet speeds, currently delivering up to 150 megabits per second, rival anything found in the world, and FiOS TV gets better all the time. We now serve more than 5 million FiOS customers, and we're on a mission to make the service even more compelling. It's Verizon's pledge to continually develop FiOS -- as well as complementary and integrated broadband wireless services -- to deliver the borderless lifestyle that our customers live today.

So go ahead and listen to Glenn Gould's recordings and marvel for yourself at the evolution of genius. Today, you can... anytime, anyplace and on virtually any device -- compliments of Verizon's investment in networks.

Bob Varettoni is Verizon's executive director for corporate communications, based in New Jersey.

 
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