McAdam: Verizon talking to networks about 'wireless over-the-top play'

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Verizon (NYSE: VZ) CEO Lowell McAdam said he has had discussions with the CEOs of major content providers about launching an over-the-top pay-TV service which would rely on either a "bring your own broadband" model or Verizon's LTE network.

Lowell McAdam

McAdam

"We think you could do a wireless over-the-top play as well," McAdam said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

Late Monday, Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) announced a distribution deal with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) which includes rights to deliver ESPN and several other Disney-owned networks through a virtual pay-TV service. McAdam said Tuesday that Verizon has deals with programmers that would allow it to offer 20 networks through mobile devices anywhere, and that it expects to have rights to deliver 110 networks to IP-connected devices anywhere by the end of 2014.

Verizon's recent acquisition of Intel's OnCue virtual cable assets could help it reduce spending on set-tops that it currently uses to deliver FiOS. "The set-top box in an OnCue environment is a little bit bigger than the end of my thumb," McAdam said.

It's worth noting that Verizon Wireless vendor MobiTV announced last week that it was building HDMI dongles similar to the thumb-sized Google Chromecast HDMI stick. MobiTV Chief Strategy Office Rick Herman told FierceCable in an interview on Friday that he expects at least one of MobiTV's customers to deploy the HDMI dongle, which could be used to deliver programming on tablets and smartphones to a TV.

Asked if he was concerned about competition from Dish Network, which has been acquiring wireless spectrum, McAdam noted that he expects it would take Dish at least one year to construct a wireless network, if it decides to use its broadband wireless spectrum to launch a service that could compete with Verizon Wireless.

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