It might never happen, and wouldn’t happen soon, but Goldman Sachs Group analysts think Verizon Communications might actually split in two, divesting all of its fixed-line assets to become a pure-play mobile operator.
That would clear the way for some eventual combination of the wireless company with another partner. In recent years, Verizon’s growth has been lead by its Verizon Wireless unit.
At the same time, it has over the last decade also been clear that the enterprise customer segment has become more crucial, not only for Verizon Communications but for most other tier-one service providers. Verizon Fixed-Line Divestiture?
Some skeptics will note that such ideas, which spawn transactions, always get speculated about because there are firms that make a good living advising clients about such transactions.
While true, it also is true that the fundamental industry drivers change quite dramatically over time. In 1999, tehre still were “Personal Communications Service” and “Cellular” segments of the wireless business. These days, the term is never used, because there no longer is any distinction between what used to be thought of as “PCS,” and “cellular” service. U.S. telecom in 1999
In 1999, there still was an independent “long distance” industry. There was a company named “WorldCom.”
A company known as “America Online” had a $125 billion market capitalization. Other Internet service provider firms, including “@Home,” had market valuations of $100 billion.
In 1999, reasonable people would have argued that newer contestants in the “local” telecom business, namely competitive local exchange carriers, had a bright and substantial future.
Cable TV companies did not provide voice services at a significant level. But AT&T owned TCI, the biggest U.S. cable company. As I recall, US West owned Media One, another leading U.S. cable company.
Against that backdrop, it might have appeared that the former “Baby Bells” would have a hard time competing. Just a bit over a decade later, many of the “upstarts” have disappeared. The differences between leading cable TV companies and leading telcos are mostly of a regulatory sort, rather than any fundamental differences in product line.
The point is that if, barely more than a decade ago, the largest U.S. long distance company could own the largest cable TV company, if the wireless business was still thought of as having distinct personal communications service and cellular segments, if whole segments of the business can virtually disappear (long distance), then all sorts of other changes are conceivable.
Verizon deciding it has to get bigger on a global basis, and get out of the landline business, is not unthinkable.