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Channel Consistency Will Be Crucial As Verizon CEO McAdam Set To Retire, CTO To Take Over

'We'll have to see if the new CEO believes in a channel format. I think that most CEOs in today's world do, as many businesses are going more channel and less direct,' says one Verizon partner.

Verizon's CEO Lowell McAdam is retiring, and his successor will be the telecom giant's CTO, Hans Vestberg (pictured), the company said Friday.

Vestberg, Verizon's executive vice president, president of global networks, and CTO of one year, previously served as CEO of Swedish telecommunications equipment and service provider Ericsson. The promotion suggests Verizon is focused on building out its next-generation network and developing new mobile solutions, such as 5G, one solution provider told CRN.

McAdam, Verizon's CEO since 2011, revealed his plans to retire at the end of the year. Until then, he will serve as executive chairman of the board and then continue as non-executive chairman. Vestberg will take over as CEO Aug. 1.

[Related: Sources: Verizon Tightens Channel Management Team Following XO Integration ]

Verizon's up-and-coming CEO has a technology-heavy background, having served as the carrier's CTO since April 2017 in addition to his six years at Ericsson. In his role as Verizon CTO, Vestberg was developing Verizon’s fiber-centric network architecture and leading the carrier's 5G charge.

Vestberg's promotion may help the carrier focus on more innovation and next-generation networking solutions, said Shane Stark, director of vendor and channel relations for Carrier Access, a Clive, Iowa-based solution provider and Verizon partner.

"If they can get 5G pushed over the goal line, it might change how businesses purchase secure wireless solutions, and you're obviously going to get those installed faster with the help of the channel," he said. "There's a lot of opportunity in 5G."

Consistency will be the most important thing for Verizon to focus on going forward under new leadership, especially when it comes to indirect sales, Verizon partners said.

"Candidly, Verizon has been in and out of the channel game so many times, they just need to pick a direction," said one solution provider executive and Verizon partner who asked not to be named.

For Carrier Access' Stark, the channel game plan is key.

"We'll have to see if the new CEO believes in a channel format. I think that most CEOs in today's world do, as many businesses are going more channel and less direct," Stark said.

McAdam, in a statement about the succession plan, said that Vestberg will position Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon to lead the "fourth industrial revolution."

’For Verizon, the time for a change in leadership is now, and I am confident that [Vestberg] is the right person to bring Verizon through its next chapter," he said.

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