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January 06, 2011

CES News: Verizon Keynote Highlights Mobility Advances, Need for Cross-Platform Solutions

Verizon’s (News - Alert) Ivan Seidenberg used his keynote speech this morning at the Consumer Electronics Show to invite its partner Google to offer a sneak peek of its Honeycomb operating system for the tablet; allow the Motorola Mobility company launched this week to highlight its new Droid Bionic phone and Motorola Xoom tablet devices; and discuss how the telco is working with these companies and other partners to make a variety of exciting applications and services more usable, enjoyable and cross platform.

A Google representative explained that the search giant with Honeycomb aims to take what people already “love” about Android and make that experience “richer”. He demonstrated a tablet running Honeycomb, noting how easily the home screen can be customized and how it enables users to do many tasks without even opening an application.

Sanjay Jha, chairman and CEO of Motorola Mobility, also joined Seidenberg and Lowell McAdam (News - Alert), Verizon’s new president and COO (to whom Seidenberg turned over much of the presentation), to talk about his company’s two new wireless devices. The Droid Bionic, slated for a second quarter launch, was built for 4G, has a 1gHz dual core processor, supports two-way video calling, and is “business ready,” said Jha.

“I call this combination the end of waiting” for apps to load, he added.

Launching commercially next month, Motorola Xoom employs the Android Honeycomb software, has an HD widescreen, a dual core processor and in the second quarter will be upgradeable to 4G.

Of course, all of the above tie into Verizon’s 4G LTE activities. Last month, Verizon Wireless went live with LTE (News - Alert) in 38 markets, which means the company’s 4G services are now available to a third of Americans. Seidenberg and McAdam said the company expects to double that in next few months and blanket the country with LTE in the next three years. We have continuous spectrum for LTE, so anyone designing apps and prods for 4G can do it on a widespread standard. LTE enables real time video, health care monitoring, etc.

A third guest speaker invited to the stage was Time Warner (News - Alert) Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes, who Seidenberg sat with for a back-and-forth Q&A that helped promote Verizon’s FiOS fiber-to-the-home builds and related bundled consumer services. (FiOS now covers 15.4 million homes, with 18 million homes to be reached by the FTTH networks in the next year or so, said Seidenberg.)

The key takeaways of this discussion were that TV is now experiencing its second golden age, with viewership, programming budgets and program quality all up; and how people want to watch what they’re interested in not just on the TV, but wherever, whenever and on whatever devices they choose.

Bewkes took this opportunity to talk about the TV Everywhere concept the cable TV community has been talking about for the past year and a half, saying that virtually every telco, cableco, satellite TV provider and network company has at this point signed on to support the initiative, which aims to create a uniform approach to cross-platform content presentation – and without requiring customers to pay an extra fee for that capability.

“That’s really obvious when you think about that,” Bewkes said. “It’s got to come together in a simple way, and you shouldn’t need a PhD as a consumer to” figure it out.

He went on to show a slide with numerous over-the-top products, services and companies, including Apple TV, Boxee (News - Alert), iTunes, Roku, Wii, Xbox, YouTube and many others. And he talked about the need for solutions that will tie these multiple solutions together and simplify it all.

Seidenberg then chimed in that Verizon’s contribution to that is first, to build future-proof networks, which it’s doing with its FiOS fiber-to-the-home program as well as with continued investment in its backbone network and subsea cables; and second to take software layers and put on them the required QoS, security, copyright protection, to make sure partners can bill for their offers, and to otherwise remove complexities for partners and end users.

“The answer won’t come from one single company” but rather from various organizations, Seidenberg said in talking about giving consumers what they want.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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