Predictions Week Video Highlights: Ronan Dunne, Verizon

Excerpts from our video interview with Ronan Dunne, CEO, Verizon Consumer Group

We were absolutely delighted to be joined by Ronan Dunne on the first day of our Predictions Week. Ronan is a 20-year mobile industry veteran; he spent 16 years at O2 in the UK and the past four years leading the consumer business at US telecom giant Verizon.

The combination of 5G, artificial intelligence and cloud computing is sure to form a lively and fast-moving background to how the telecom industry develops over the next few years. Verizon is among the leading operators in the adoption of 5G by consumers and this “telco transformation”, so we thought Ronan would be an ideal candidate for the first of our executive interviews in our week-long online event to present our predictions for 2021 and beyond.

Ronan was typically forthright about many of the major opportunities and challenges for his business in the US and was particularly expansive on wider themes in our industry.

During our talk we discussed the new network and its role in society as operators develop 5G and respond to the expectations of governments, regulators and, most importantly, customers. Some of Ronan’s views may sound at odds with what you might expect from a telecom executive deep in transformation and deploying a whole new — and expensive — 5G network.

But first, we began by speaking about the recent acquisition of Tracfone by Verizon and how it reflected Verizon’s strategy as it competes with AT&T and the new juggernaut created by the combined T-Mobile and Sprint.

Early in the session Ronan explained that Verizon needed to focus its business on customers and not be technology-led. Many may think that a curious thing to say for a company whose major marketing over the past two years has been based on the coverage and speed of its 5G network.

We talked about launching a new 5G network with “no hardware of any kind” — no customer premises equipment, no devices — and how his teams adapted. We also explored the potential impact of 5G iPhones, which Apple is expected to unveil this week. Ronan admitted that more than 60% of Verizon’s customers are now on iOS devices. Clearly these customers have had no direct access to 5G connections for two years.

He was also keen to talk about moving the network above the connectivity layer and explained the background to the importance of both scale and partnerships in exploiting opportunities in mobile edge computing.

We discussed Verizon’s partnership with Amazon to develop AWS Wavelength, a cloud offering optimized for applications at the mobile network edge. I challenged Ronan whether two companies used to controlling their own destinies could work effectively as partners. He detailed how the venture is working really well and what the future may hold.

As with all the executives we interviewed during Predictions Week, I asked Ronan for his prediction — don’t miss that at the end of the session!

Please leave any comments you may have below, and we’ll get back to you. I hope you enjoy watching this as much as we did recording it. For the full version of the interview and all of the sessions from our Predictions Week, drop us a line.