Verizon plans $3 billion in upgrades in next 2 years

January 09, 2004|By Jon Van | Jon Van,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Verizon Communications Inc., the dominant phone company in Maryland, will spend $3 billion over the next two years to upgrade its wireless and wired networks to carry high-speed data, Ivan Seidenberg, the firm's chief executive, said yesterday.

Verizon also will introduce new technology to integrate cell phones, wired phones and Internet services onto a single device, providing a range of new features for consumer and business users.

How much of the $3 billion will be added to the $12 billion or so in capital improvement expenditures the nation's largest phone company normally spends on network upgrades will depend upon market conditions, Seidenberg said.

If the market doesn't expand as expected, some of the $3 billion will be reallocated from other network upgrades, he said. But if customer demand increases, the $3 billion will represent an increase in overall spending.

For the past three years, Verizon and other major carriers curtailed spending, which has been disastrous for equipment vendors such as Lucent Technologies Inc., Nortel Networks Inc. and Tellabs Inc. All have suffered losses and radically cut payrolls.

Verizon Wireless, the country's largest cell phone provider, will offer mobile data services running at 300 to 500 kilobits per second to major markets later this year. At those speeds, consumers will be able to download music and receive high-quality video on their cell phones.

Business customers who use Verizon service in some areas may be able to purchase wireless/wireline integration later this year.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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