Verizon's Quest for 5G Revenue -- Journal Report
By Sarah Krouse
As Verizon Communications Inc. rolls out 5G service, Rima
Qureshi has a clear mission: find ways to move beyond providing
Ms. Qureshi, Verizon's chief strategy officer, leads a team
charged with being "as creative and off the wall as possible" while
remaining dead set on creating products that can be monetized, she
"I don't want you to come up with demos, I want products," she
tells them, grilling members monthly on the financial viability of
products and services.
That drive has meant forming new partnerships with technology
giants including Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.; creating new
business-use cases for connected products like robots and drones;
and finding revenue models that take advantage of features of 5G.
Those include ultra low latency, or the much shorter time it takes
for machines to respond to each other over a network, and high
throughput, or the ability to move massive amounts of data at
speeds far beyond those possible with 4G.
Billions of dollars are at stake in Ms. Qureshi's efforts.
Verizon landed more than half of the midband spectrum rights
offered in a recent U.S. government airwaves auction that attracted
record-setting bids. The carrier will pay more than $50 billion for
those airwaves and related expenses and is planning a total of $10
billion in capital expenditures over the next three years to expand
its midband range.
Ms. Qureshi joined Verizon roughly three years ago from Ericsson
AB, where she worked previously with Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.
Among her priorities has been determining what 5G-enabled edge
computing can accomplish and what problems Verizon's service might
help businesses solve. Edge computing allows for faster data
processing because the data is crunched in real time closer to a
device, rather than first being sent to a centralized cloud or data
For businesses looking to use 5G service it means bringing the
cloud closer to the application and having more remote cloud
storage. As a result, Verizon needed to connect its network to a
Ms. Qureshi had to decide whether the company should try to
scale its existing cloud itself or partner with an outside company.
Executives realized that scaling Verizon's own cloud would require
hefty investments and starting from scratch in a developer
ecosystem that technology giants were already immersed in.
"Does it make sense to go in and develop it against the experts
in the field?" Ms. Qureshi recalls asking at the time. She
determined that joining with large, established cloud providers was
a faster way to start generating revenue and putting edge computing
to use for business clients.
"Here's a mutually beneficial way for us to commercialize a
product as early as possible," she says of Verizon's partnerships
with Amazon and Microsoft on network and cloud services. She
declines to discuss the specifics of how the companies share
In addition to those partnerships, Verizon has revamped its
pricing with the features of 5G in mind. It plans to charge
business customers based on what aspects of 5G service are most
critical to them -- such as low latency, which can enable
more-seamless use of robotics, or high throughput, which enables
faster speeds for many more connected devices.
The pandemic has accelerated by five to 10 years some of the use
cases she and her team have envisioned. "Some of it felt almost a
little bit like science fiction," she says, pointing to
increasingly common uses such as robots disinfecting hospitals and
office buildings or interacting with humans in warehouses,
manufacturing plants and other work environments. Plus, retail and
logistics companies are more quickly adopting automation and
robotics because of pandemic-spurred changes in consumer shopping
habits that strained their abilities to quickly fill and deliver
Verizon has made small acquisitions to further some of Ms.
Qureshi's goals. In February it agreed to acquire robotics-focused
technology firm Incubed IT. Ms. Qureshi wants to lower the cost of
robots by moving some computing and storage into the network rather
than sitting within a device's hardware. For example. her team is
working to teach robots, enabled by 5G computing power and lower
latency, to sense fixed and moving objects around them to better
interact and coexist with humans.
It is also working to advance the use of 5G-connected drones.
Verizon and United Parcel Service are testing delivery of retail
products at a retirement community called The Villages in
The airwaves the company recently secured are "rocket fuel" for
the projects under way, Ms. Qureshi says.
"It really is a question of what you can imagine, and that's the
fun of it," she says.
Ms. Krouse is a Wall Street Journal reporter based in New York.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 24, 2021 17:08 ET (21:08 GMT)
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