McAdam as Verizon COO: More Google, Less Neutrality

Lowell McAdam (right) with Google's former CEO Eric Schmidt

Verizon today appointed Lowell McAdam the company’s chief operating officer, setting McAdam up for an even larger future role, once the current chairman and CEO, Ivan G. Seidenberg steps down. In a press statement, the company indicated this news to be “an important step in the succession process for when Seidenberg retires from the company.” McAdam is currently the president and CEO of Verizon’s mobile arm, Verizon Wireless, and officially begins reporting to Seidenberg in his new role on Oct. 1. By placing the wireless-focused McAdam in line for the top spot, Verizon continues to illustrate a move away from fading fixed-landline demand and toward a mobile future.

McAdam’s appointment is sure to have implications far beyond Verizon, however. It’s no secret that McAdam and Verizon Wireless are partners with Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. McAdam and Schmidt teamed up back in 2009 with news of Verizon’s commitment for Android-powered smartphones on the Verizon network. With no Apple iPhone to offer, Verizon needed a comparable mobile platform, and Google needed a carrier partner to help Android gain traction. Although Android has grown market share beyond iOS and BlackBerry for many reasons since then, McAdam’s commitment to a large array of Android devices helped jumpstart the Android army in the U.S. That relationship is sure to continue, as McAdam recently admitted that his company is working with Google on an Android tablet.

Such growth of Android may be good for developers looking for a profitable future and customers who want a compelling choice in smartphones (and tablets), and Verizon is happy to sell you one, of course. But the bigger concern by this tech “bro-mance” deals with net neutrality. Google and Verizon have jointly outlined a stance on net neutrality and that stance allows wireless carriers to manage network traffic as they see fit. In fairness, it was Verizon’s Seidenberg that publicly penned the company’s net neutrality suggestions, but make no mistake: McAdam will continue down the path of protecting Verizon’s wireless assets with the help of Schmidt at Google.

Google wants the world to use it as a search engine and suite of web apps to beget ad income, which last year accounted for 97 percent of revenue. Verizon will be moving towards a tiered pricing bucket for wireless data and is even offering cloud-based services that compete against third-party developers on its mobile network.

Aside from naming McAdam as the future leader of Verizon and the broader industry implications, the news also illustrates the lightning-fast pace of a wireless world. It was only back in 2000 that McAdam was tapped as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of a brand new entity called Verizon Wireless. In the span of a decade, a mobile company was created to complement a wired parent, and now the child is ready to lead the future.

Related GigaOM Pro Content (sub req’d): The New Net-Neutrality Debate: What’s the Best Way to Discriminate?

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