Verizon Wireless announced last week that Chief Technology Officer Hans Vestberg will succeed Lowell McAdam as the company’s Chief Executive officer, writes Wireless Week’s Bevin Fletcher.
The move is an indictor to the wireless industry that Verizon is serious about its 5G and fiber network-driven strategy as the industry’s landscape transitions during major deals. Vestberg has been a key player in Verizon’s 5G efforts and its continued development of the company’s fiber-based architecture. He will assume the CEO post beginning on August 1. McAdam, who served as CEO for seven years, will become an executive chairman on the Verizon board until he retires at the end of the year.
Prior to joining Verizon last April, he was president and chief executive at Ericsson for six years.
“I’m humbled to be appointed CEO of Verizon at such an exciting and dynamic time for our company and industry,” Vestberg said in a statement. “We are experiencing unprecedented changes in the way users interact in the digital world, and we are racing ahead to remain at the forefront of technology, connectivity and mobility.”
The announcement surprised many who thought Verizon’s president of global operations, John Stratton would be named in the role. However, Wells Fargo analysts believe choosing Vestberg revolves around the company’s focus on its fiber strategy. Instead, Stratton has stepped down from his role at Verizon, but will assist with the transition as a strategic advisor. Stratton will report to McAdam and leave Verizon by the end of the year, according to Wireless Week.
“We had originally thought that Vestberg was hired to give his ‘under the hood’ view of global networks and help Verizon with its move to expand its fiber network out of region,” Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzche wrote in an investor note. “Obviously there was much more to this hire. We have long thought the Verizon fiber brand and focus on the Internet of Things was more significant than (Wall) Street may fully appreciate. We see this announcement as further evidence of this.”
“Verizon’s network superiority is not as differentiated as it once was,” BTIG TMT Analyst Walt Piecyk told Connected Real Estate Magazine. “It will be interesting to see whether Vestberg continues to rely heavily on network densification to increase capacity and enable 5G.”