McAdam: No Cable Deals for Verizon

Telco chief says he’d rather spend on fiber

After months of speculation putting it with every conceivable cable company out there, Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam told an industry audience Thursday that the telco isn’t interested in merging with a cable operator, adding he’d rather spend the money on fiber.

“We’ve moved on,” McAdam said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference (see more coverage) on Sept. 14. “About a year ago we went through a process of looking at cable companies, but the fiber infrastructure isn’t there. …To pull out a lot of coax and put in the fiber, I’d rather just put in the fiber.”

The telco’s recent actions appear to back that up. Last month Verizon ponied up $225 million to purchase a portion of WideOpenWest’s fiber assets in Chicago and in May it outbid rival AT&T for Straight Path as part of its efforts to build out 5G technology.

Verizon has been the subject of intense speculation that it would purchase a cable operator – Charter and Comcast have been two names that have often been connected to the company. But McAdam said he doesn’t see any sense in engineering a big deal that won’t move the competitive needle much anyway.

“We’re building the network that doesn’t care,” McAdam said. “If you can get broadband, I don’t care whether the customer goes over the top or buys a linear package. We’ll sell either one to them.”

We want to have the network that people can provide whatever service they want on it.”

That means focusing its efforts on rolling out 5G technology, which McAdam said would “usher in the fourth industrial revolution.”

But he was less enthusiastic about video, adding that “the numbers all show over-the-top is gaining ground and the 300 channel bundle is under assault.”

McAdam added that Verizon's approach to mobile video will center around Oath, the new unit formed through the combination of its AOL and Yahoo assets, mainly because advertisers see enhanced value in the data analytics that digital distribution provides.