Duh. $23 billion worth of future proof
The New York Times
this morning offers up an article exploring whether Verizon's $23 billion investment in running fiber to the home was the right thing to do. The majority say yes; particularly swayed have been investors, some of whom thought the project was "doomed
" early on, but have changed their tune as they actually begin to understand the future competitive ramifications. Apparently, even crazy homeless people like the technology:
The service has been particularly popular among the more sophisticated customers attracted by higher Internet speeds, said Karl Bode, the editor of BroadbandReports.com. "Deliver quality technology and cutting-edge speed, and customers respond," he said. "I’m preparing to move into a new home, and FiOS availability actually played a part in where I was willing to move. And I’ve probably been one of Verizon’s most outspoken critics over the years."
Before we get all weepy in adoration, we've well documented
that if FiOS continues to have a weak spot, it's billing errors and support issues. Still, there's really no doubt at this point that Verizon is going to be in a better broadband competitive position down the line than either AT&T or Qwest, both of whom have decided to milk copper.
Still, Verizon's plan still has its opponents on Wall Street. In the Times piece Craig Moffett, a well quoted Wall Street analyst who on any given day can usually be found pushing cable stocks
and cable industry viewpoints
, once again trots out his argument that investing in fiber is a bad idea. Moffett continues to suggest that the company will be (contrary to other analysts) six billion in the hole when it's all said and done:
"If I were an auto dealer and I wanted to give people a Maserati for the price of a Volkswagen, I’d have some seriously happy customers," said Craig Moffett, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein. "My problem would be whether I could earn a decent return doing it."
Despite consternation from impatient investors, upgrading your network is a no brainer for a broadband company. Looking at wireless revenues and the profit margins made on things like SMS and other services, you'd be hard pressed to suggest that Verizon doesn't have the cash to protect itself with a little forward-thinking vision. Increasingly cheaper gear and advancements like Corning's bendable fiber
is also allowing Verizon to only just now focus on apartment dwellers and increase ROI.
One question that might still need answering is whether, in ten years, it was a great idea for telcos to get into the traditional TV business during the advent of broadband video. Early signs say yes as the telcos scrap with cable for triple play customers, but then again, online video isn't much of a threat
to traditional broadcast television just yet.