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Verizon CEO says the wireless market isn’t such a bad business after all


In the face of slowing growth, newfound competition and heavy capital costs, Verizon Communications Inc. Chief Executive Hans Vestberg still sees big potential in the wireless market.

Pressed by JPMorgan analyst Phil Cusick to address investor concerns about the mature wireless industry at a Tuesday investor conference, Vestberg defended the money-making possibilities still to come.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunities in wireless,” he said. “There’s no other industry I would like to be in.”

While Vestberg conceded that the wireless market may seem to be at
“maturity” because “everybody has a mobile phone,” he sees other ways that Verizon
VZ,
-0.60%

can win in its business.

“Mobility, broadband and cloud services are the 21st century’s infrastructure,” he said at the JPMorgan conference. In his view, “innovation is going to continue with wireless technologies” in areas like fixed-wireless access, which enables broadband access using radio frequencies instead of cables, and mobile-edge compute, a type of cloud computing.

See also: AT&T CEO addresses historic post-earnings selloff and changes in the works

The comments come amid some doubts on Wall Street about the 5G hype. While 5G has been heralded for years as a groundbreaking technology, its benefits to consumers have been limited so far.

Don’t miss: First grade, first cellphone? Here’s how families are managing kids’ ever-earlier adoption of devices.

Vestberg conceded Tuesday that 5G has played more of a role on the business side to date. “You see new applications that can be used in 5G, especially for enterprises,” he said, noting that “from the beginning, the design of 5G was very much to see that also enterprises could actually use wireless as their main source of communication.”

Going forward, Vestberg and his team “want to see more on the consumer side from 5G.”

The presentation also comes amid a recent slump in Verizon shares as the company has struggled with its subscriber performance over the past few quarters. The telecommunications giant has shaken up the leadership of its consumer business and, earlier this month, it tweaked its phone offerings to offer a more simplified array of plans and more customization in terms of add-on services like discounted streaming packages.

Read: Verizon will add more customization options to its wireless plans

Vestberg said the company was seeing signs of progress even before it redid its offerings under the myPlan moniker.

“We have a high conversion rate in the stores,” he said, adding that he’s “excited to see what’s going to happen with myPlan because that comes on the back end of all of this momentum we built up in the second half or the fourth quarter last year and into the first quarter.”

Shares of Verizon have declined 27% over the past 12 months, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.80%

has added about 4%.



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