Verizon announced a deal yesterday with Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company of Walgreens and Duane Reade drug stores. The deal is broad and includes a Verizon NaaS (Network-as-a-Service) platform for 9,000 store locations.
Signaling the scale of this deal, Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin says it’s “[t]he largest, fully customized, Network as a Service solution for a partner,” in a prepared statement.
The deal includes store and warehouse connectivity, network security, 4G and 5G connectivity and applications, and secure connections to the cloud, among many other applications. Verizon characterizes the deal as helping facilitate Walgreen’s digital transformation.
“The NaaS platform will accelerate WBA’s work on their digital first initiatives,” Massimo Peselli, SVP International & Enterprise Business Development, Verizon Business, tells Telecompetitor in an emailed statement.
In addition to the stores, the Verizon NaaS platform will connect distribution centers, warehouses, office locations, and data centers. Secure connections to Walgreens public cloud partners is included. The platform includes network security in the core, and across all the connections between these locations.
Verizon will also support Walgreens’ transformation of the company’s business applications and ERP systems, the spokesperson noted.
5G Fixed Wireless
Included in the connectivity suite of the Verizon NaaS offer for Walgreens will be 5G fixed wireless access. Both companies intend to leverage 5G for in-store customer experience applications.
“Fixed wireless access will be the first, enabling greater network capacity and lower latency to the stores; use cases are being developed in partnership between Verizon and WBA that will deliver new customer experiences and improve health outcomes,” says Peselli.
Verizon has an active 5G fixed wireless strategy that initially has been focused on residential internet service. This Verizon NaaS approach with Walgreens demonstrates an expansion of that strategy into the business and enterprise segment.
Wireless connectivity will also include 4G LTE, given 5G’s limited footprint for now, but every Walgreens Boots Alliance store will be connected to Verizon’s wireless network. Peselli cites this wireless connectivity as driving “towards a digital environment allowing real-time application access across pharmacy and retail, leading to better health and retail experiences for customers.”