Verizon increases network infrastructure investment by $500M

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Verizon said Thursday it will boost investment in network infrastructure, increasing its capital guidance by $500 million, to prepare for the rise in telecommuting and online learning amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Verizon has not seen any measurable increases in data usage, even as some business, schools and other organizations are asking its employees to work remotely, Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC in an interview. He added that the company is monitoring it 24/7 because “patterns can change.” (TechCrunch is owned by Verizon.)

Still, the company is increasing its capital guidance from $17 billion-$18 billion to $17.5 billion-$18.5 billion in 2020. Vestberg said the company would continue to add to its network infrastructure. Verizon said in a statement that the effort aims to accelerate the company’s transition to 5G and help support the economy during this period of disruption.

“In these times, it’s important to show the market and the country that there are people investing as well,” he added in the CNBC interview.

Verizon said in a statement that it has been closely monitoring network usage in the most impacted areas and will work with and prioritize network demand to assist needs of U.S. hospitals, first responders and government agencies.

The decision follows an escalating global crisis caused by COVID-19, the coronavirus strain that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization earlier this week. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the stock market, pushing shares lower in every industry, and caused numerous closures, including professional sports games, the cancellation of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and Disneyland. Shares of Verizon closed down 3.65%, at $51.20.

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