Verizon's CEO Pick Signals Growing Focus On 5G, Not Content

Verizon on Friday announced that its CEO of seven years Lowell McAdam will be stepping down in August to be replaced by Hans Vestberg, a 52-year-old industry veteran from Sweden whose specialties and experience are a far cry from what the firm's biggest rival AT&T is presently focusing on. Mr. Vestberg served as CEO of Stockholm-based telecom giant Ericsson from 2009 to 2016, having joined Verizon in April of the following year as its CTO. Mr. Vestberg is understood to have been the top candidate for the CEO position alongside Verizon's global operations chief John Stratton, with his win indicating the largest wireless carrier in the country sees the bulk of its long-term strategy dedicated to networks and not content.

While Verizon is said to have expressed some interest in acquiring CBS earlier this year, as the broadcaster claimed in previously filed court documents, the company now appears to be adamant to not mimic the strategy of AT&T and attempt large-scale diversification with a push into entertainment. AT&T's proposed purchase of Time Warner valued at $85.6 billion is still facing federal opposition despite being agreed as a vertical merger that doesn't eliminate any competition from the market. Simultaneously, T-Mobile and Sprint are attempting an even riskier consolidation whose chances of approval are 50-50 at best, according to numerous industry watchers.

With Mr. Vestberg at the helm, Verizon is likely to pursue a more wireless-focused strategy that's closer to his comfort zone instead of branching out into content, presumably as it's seeking to capitalize on the fifth generation of mobile networks as quickly as possible. While 5G will once again raise the technological limits of mobile service speeds, latencies, and capacities, the practical manner in which it was envisioned should also lead to the arrival of new technologies allowing for unprecedented business models, in turn creating jobs and spurring economic growth. Though the promise of 5G is unlikely to be fulfilled for several more years even as limited commercial deployment is set to be started by Verizon and AT&T in the coming months, the New York City-based telecom giant's medium-term capital expenditures should heavily lean in favor of that wireless technology instead of movie empire ambitions like the one AT&T is presently nurturing, as indicated by the appointment of Mr. Vestberg.

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