The business services arm of Verizon Communications is negotiating deals with mobile operators in EMEA and APAC to offer corporate customers remote access services, with the potential for fixed-mobile convergence further down the road.
Verizon Business represents about $20bn of the Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based carrier’s total $90bn revenue, according to its president John Killian, who is currently celebrating that it returned to top-line growth in the second half of 2006 after several years of decline. Now the group is looking for an improvement in margins, provided by a rationalization in the number of OSS (currently five) and BSS (34) systems it uses.
With around a quarter of its total business generated outside the States, Verizon is now seeking to beef up its offering in Europe, Middle East and Africa, as well as Asia/Pacific, and while it is already putting in more points of presence on its global MPLS network, that also means addressing corporate customers’ mobile requirements.
The challenge it faces in this context, of course, is twofold. Firstly, while Verizon has a major cellular business in the US via Verizon Wireless, it has no mobile presence elsewhere in the world, so inevitably it will need partnerships to fulfil connectivity requirements outside the States. Second, its radio access technology in the US is CDMA, which is not used anywhere in Europe, and only in some countries in Asia, albeit they are major nations such as Korea, Japan, China and India.
That means that, for the majority of the rest of the world, it will be partnering with GSM operators, which in turn means it will have to convince corporate customers to invest in dual-mode CDMA/GSM phones in order to offers one-device global roaming to their employees.
Killian does not consider that a huge challenge, however. There are already such phones, he began, talking to Computer Business Review on his Samsung CDMA/quad-band GSM handset, and in the next couple of months there’s going to be a dual-band BlackBerry. The law of falling bills of materials dictate that such handsets will also continue to decline in price, making it easier to offer such services to Verizon’s customers, he went on.
And of course, once a company has been persuaded to invest in two different radio access technologies in the cellular world, it should be a relatively small step to have them add WiFi connectivity to their devices too, particularly as the FMC services that will enable will come with the promise of lower overall phone bills. That’s further in the future, though.
We’re not yet seeing customers pushing strongly to procure wired and wireless from the same providers, he began, though a lot of them are moving to IP and MPLS, and they’re looking for service providers who can supply them in multiple geographies. As for wired and wireless connectivity on the same account, he went on, we’ll probably see more of that 18 to 24 months from now.
The partnerships with GSM operators, meanwhile, will be unveiled sooner. We should be talking about this late in the second or in the third quarter, said Killian.