Verizon’s Outgoing President Reflects on Industry Changes, Looks Forward to New Opportunities

Dennis Bone began his career with Verizon and its predecessor New Jersey Bell Telephone Company more than thirty years ago. As President of Verizon, he is one of the state’s highest profile leaders. But now, he is getting ready to step down as the head of Verizon. Verizon’s outgoing President says he plans to dial down his work pace from 100 miles an hour to 60 miles.

He tells NJ Today’s Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he has been very to lucky to have such a long career with Verizon and could not have foreseen in 1975, when he began as an engineer, all the changes that have taken place in the industry.

“You could not imagine the future of telecommunications and the changes that would sweep through the industry, not one but 2 or 3 times,” said Bone. Among the changes he’s witnessed — technological innovations, transition from wire to wireless and the breakup of the Bell system. Behind all those changes, he says, is consumer behavior that may be driving technology, citing as an example the customers who sit out all night waiting the latest iPhone.

“As consumers today, we want to get our information anywhere we go, on any device, we want to be able to communicate to the world and that was not the world we lived in back then.”

While cellphones have made the telephone aspect of landlines obsolete, he doesn’t think we’ll be seeing the end of landlines anytime soon. “The high definition TVs and that kind of entertainment is going to be hard to replicate on a cellphone. The data products or how fast the data comes in and out of your phone, that’s gonna continue to increase. But could that data power a big 70-inch high definition TV? — I don’t think so.”

As telecom companies get bigger and merge, are we returning to the days of Ma Bell?

Bone doesn’t think so. “The competitive forces that have been unleashed by the breakup [of Bell Telephone] and the technology and all the new entrants, I don’t think that could be put back into a bottle … There’s so many other competitors out there and it’s just not your normal competitors because companies like Google and Apple and Microsoft, they all are going to be in the market as well.”

Since announcing his retirement a week ago, three people have already knocked on his door, wanting to talk about his post-Verizon plans. One area he has ruled out is politics, even though he was involved with Gov. Christie’s transition team.

“I’m definitely not going into politics, that’s for sure. I’m gonna sit back and see what opportunities come my way.”

New Jersey was hit hard by the recession and recovery has been slow but Bone is optimistic about the state’s economy.

“At Choose New Jersey, we had been doing a lot of research on perceptions around the country and around the world, frankly, on how people view New Jersey. And I will tell you, all of that data is getting more positive.”