Several thousand Verizon employees have accepted buyout offers as the nation’s largest carrier continues to retool its operations around a massive investment in the next generation of wireless service.
The company said on Monday that 10,400 workers—nearly 7 percent of its workforce—have agreed to leave by the middle of next year as part of a voluntary separation program meant to shore up cash for 5G investment. The job cuts come as Verizon is shifting its strategy away from digital media ambitions towards a full-bore focus on the 5G arms race.
“Together, we are leading the world during this great technological revolution, and we will continue to lead the way,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in a memo announcing the buyouts. “This is a moment in time, given our financial and operational strength, to begin to better serve customers with more agility, speed and flexibility.”
The buyouts, the company’s largest in 15 years, mark the latest development in an ongoing reshuffle that began shortly after Vestberg, formerly the company’s chief technology officer, took the helm in August. In September, all but one of Oath’s C-suite execs left the company, reportedly frustrated with the lack of support they were receiving from its parent company. The carrier then announced last month that it was reorganizing into three business segments—consumer wireless, enterprise and media—after leadership was said to have spent the previous month reevaluating many executive positions.
All told, the transition to 5G networks is expected to cost the wireless industry as much as $200 billion per year, a significantly higher price tag than that of any previous generation. Verizon is banking on that investment paying off in the form of new internet-of-things markets, household wireless services and media opportunities, all of which it hopes to play a central role. The next generation is expected to eventually yield data transfer speeds between 10 and 100 times faster than what’s currently available and loading times of less than a millisecond.
“We are going to focus on what we are best at, and we are best at network, and we are best at developing the capabilities first before anyone else,” Verizon chief strategy officer Rima Qureshi told Adweek in an earlier interview.