Verizon’s Quest for 5G Revenue

As Verizon Communications Inc. rolls out 5G service, Rima Qureshi has a clear mission: find ways to move beyond providing basic connectivity.

Ms. Qureshi, Verizon’s chief strategy officer, leads a team charged with being “as creative and off the wall as possible” while remaining dead set on creating products that can be monetized, she says.

“I don’t want you to come up with demos, I want products,” she tells them, grilling members monthly on the financial viability of products and services.

That drive has meant forming new partnerships with technology giants including Inc. and Microsoft Corp. ; creating new business-use cases for connected products like robots and drones; and finding revenue models that take advantage of features of 5G. Those include ultra low latency, or the much shorter time it takes for machines to respond to each other over a network, and high throughput, or the ability to move massive amounts of data at speeds far beyond those possible with 4G.

Billions of dollars are at stake in Ms. Qureshi’s efforts. Verizon landed more than half of the midband spectrum rights offered in a recent U.S. government airwaves auction that attracted record-setting bids. The carrier will pay more than $50 billion for those airwaves and related expenses and is planning a total of $10 billion in capital expenditures over the next three years to expand its midband range.

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