Verizon's Seidenberg: We don't have an iPhone deficit

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) CEO Ivan Seidenberg said that although Verizon Wireless would love to have Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, the carrier is more excited about the wide array of LTE devices it will debut as the company builds out its next-generation network.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XIX Conference, Seidenberg said Verizon's strong support of Google's Android platform proves that if a carrier builds a competitive alternative to the iPhone, customers will migrate to it. He said that numerous vendors--from Apple to Motorola (NYSE:MOT), Samsung and even Huawei--likely will build LTE devices as Verizon expands its network, and that Verizon will want to offer them all. At some point, Apple will "get with the program," he said. "We don't feel like we have an iPhone deficit," he said. "We would love to carry it when we get there, but we have to earn it."

He also said Verizon will soon release an LTE tablet, and said the tablet market likely will "explode." Other LTE devices will debut in the first quarter of 2011.

Seidenberg also addressed other aspects of Verizon's LTE plans. He said Verizon will launch LTE in roughly 30 markets--covering 100 million POPs--and at 50 airports across the nation by year-end. Then the company plans to launch new markets every month, so that by the end of 2013 it will have 90 percent of the country covered by LTE. "No one is going to be even close to us on that," he said.

AT&T (NYSE:T) CEO Randall Stephenson said Tuesday that AT&T Mobility will report a record number of smartphone sales in the third quarter. AT&T will launch commercial LTE service by mid-2011, and will cover between 70 million and 75 million POPs by the end of next year.

Seidenberg took a swipe at AT&T's decision to move to a tiered pricing scheme for 3G mobile data. "We're not sure that we agree yet with how they have valued the data," he said. AT&T charges $15 per month for 200 MB and $25 for 2 GB. Seidenberg did not reveal Verizon's pricing for LTE, but reiterated that the company will move to some kind of tiered or usage-based pricing plan for the service. He said Verizon will "feather in" its pricing plans for LTE, and likely will introduce the tiered pricing over the next four to six months. "We do agree with tiered pricing, and we do agree we have to monetize the investments we've made," he said.

The Verizon chief's comments come amid a management shift for the company. The telecom firm tapped Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam as its new president and COO, clearing the way for him to succeed Seidenberg. Verizon named Daniel Mead, currently executive vice president and COO of Verizon Wireless, as the new chief of its wireless unit. Verizon also named Francis Shammo as its new CFO; he will succeed John Killian, who is retiring at year-end.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article

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