Telecom’s Return to CES

The Consumer Electronics Association announced today that Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg will deliver the opening keynote address at CES 2011. After lamenting the absence of cable and telecom companies at CES 2010, I’m pleased to see a high-profile return with Seidenberg’s keynote. Forget about cell phones for a moment, it’s Verizon as a broadband company that I’m interested in. Broadband connects an awful lot of the great products that grace the floors of CES. And the convergence of broadband, TV, and mobile services means that major operators like Verizon absolutely should have a presence at the biggest CE show of the year. In 2010, Clearwire was the one major broadband representative, peddling WiMAX and specifically the Clear service covering Las Vegas. In 2011, it looks like Verizon will (literally) take center stage.

So what will Verizon highlight at CES? According to the CEA press release, LTE (4G mobile broadband) is top on the agenda, which has led some to speculate that Verizon will launch its LTE service at the show. If that’s true, I have some tactical advice for the company. First, if there is an LTE network up and running in Las Vegas, Verizon should hand out loaner LTE adapters for press/bloggers to use with complimentary three-day mobile broadband service. (It’s always a good idea to get the press on your side for a launch.) Second, Verizon should partner with a spectacular content company to highlight what consumers can use their mobile broadband connections for. Third, Verizon should tie its LTE service back to FiOS home internet and television services. What an opportunity for the company to show it can deliver converged services better than anyone.

Side Note: Remember when Comcast made a big splash at CES 2008? The big topic then was the launch of Tru2way and Comcast’s work with Panasonic in bringing retail Tru2way products to market. Last week, however, Panasonic announced it will no longer be selling Tru2way TV sets. Oops. Here’s hoping Verizon’s CES fortunes won’t be so ill-fated.

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