Verizon Communications has settled its third green bond offering of $1 billion, shortly after the full allocation of its second green bond toward renewable energy commitments.
The net proceeds of its third green bond are expected to also be allocated entirely toward renewable energy as the company continues to enter into long-term virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) which support the construction of solar and wind power facilities.
“In less than two years, Verizon has become one of the leading corporate buyers of renewable energy in the U.S., entering into fourteen VPPAs for nearly 1.9 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity,” said Matt Ellis, Verizon’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. “These investments are consistent with our commitments in support of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, to source or generate renewable energy equivalent to 50 percent of our total annual electricity consumption by 2025, and to be net-zero in our operational emissions by 2035 (scope 1 and 2 emissions). Furthermore, this transaction aligns with our commitment to advancing racial and social equity in the capital markets by partnering with women- and minority-owned firms.”
Verizon has added to an updated version of what it calls its Green Financing Framework underwriter selection criteria focused on sustainability and diversity commitments. The framework states that a financial institution would be eligible for selection as an underwriter for green financing instruments if it meets at least one of the following criteria: It has established clear and impactful commitments in support of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, it is a diverse-owned firm or it has a core mission of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Based on these criteria and long-standing trusted relationships, Verizon selected three minority- and women-owned firms as lead underwriters for the launch of the green bond: Loop Capital Markets, Ramirez & Co. and Siebert Williams Shank,” a statement from the company reads.
In addition, Verizon said, the company appointed Morgan Stanley as one of its four lead underwriters. It said Morgan Stanley has been a leader in sustainability for over a decade, being the first major U.S.-based global bank to commit to net-zero financed emissions by 2050, while also promoting diversity, equity and inclusion with initiatives such as the Institute for Inclusion and the Multicultural Innovation Lab. All four lead underwriters shared equal responsibility in bringing the transaction to the market, Verizon said.
Year to date, Verizon has paid approximately $20 million in underwriting fees to minority- and women-owned firms, including $4.5 million for the third green bond and more than $14 million in fees related to Verizon’s $25 billion debt offering in March, with the latter transaction holding the record for the most fees paid to minority- and women-owned firms in a single transaction, the company said.
“With the issuance of its third consecutive $1 billion green bond, Verizon once again demonstrates its commitment to the principles of racial diversity and economic inclusion, while also continuing to be a standard bearer for corporate environmental responsibility,” said Chris Williams, chairman of Siebert Williams Shank. “We thank Verizon for providing significant economic support and the opportunity for its diverse banking partners to gain substantive professional experience, which enables our firms to enhance the breadth and quality of the capital markets services that we deliver to all of our clients.”
According to Verizon, the capital market transaction aligns with the company’s long-standing commitment to make both environmental and social progress as part of its responsible business plan called Citizen Verizon, in connection with addressing societal issues.
Sam Ramirez Jr., senior managing director of Ramirez & Co., said that serving as a lead underwriter for the transaction enabled his company to showcase its capabilities and compete at what he called the highest levels. He said Verizon demonstrated leadership and vision by including diversity, equity and inclusion firms. “As we celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2021, we recognize that it is opportunities such as this that have enabled us to grow our business over the years,” he said.
For all the bright, sunny positives that 5G wireless communications technology offers to consumers, businesses and first responders — increased capacity, speed, reliability and connectivity — a large looming cloud persists: Power-hungry 5G base stations can consume up to three times more power than 4G and LTE networks. This massive electricity consumption leaves a bigger carbon footprint on the environment and could be a big problem for countries that depend on fossil fuels for electricity generation.
Last week, AT&T announced its plans to target eliminating 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, working with Microsoft, universities and other alliances to unleash the power of 5G and other broadband technologies through the AT&T Connected Climate Initiative.
AT&T says it has set an industry-leading target to help businesses collectively reduce a gigaton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — 1 billion metric tons — by 2035, an effort which will contribute to a better, more sustainable world. A gigaton is equal to approximately 15 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 3 percent of global energy-related emissions in 2020 — or 1.6 billion flights from Los Angeles to New York.
AT&T will work with businesses including Microsoft, Equinix and Duke Energy, along with research universities, and a range of other organizations to deliver broadband-enabled climate solutions at global scale. This collaborative builds on AT&T’s standing commitment to aggressively reduce our own emissions, while enabling the transition to a net-zero economy.
T-Mobile moved early on renewable energy. In June 2020, the nonprofit Green America Wireless Scorecard, which measures clean energy usage and reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions within the wireless industry, named T-Mobile the top carrier for Clean Energy Commitment — for the third year in a row.
According to a company spokesperson, T-Mobile was the first in the industry to set two carbon reduction targets validated by the Science-Based Targets Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prevent the worst effects of climate change:
Target 1: Reduce combined absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions 95 percent by 2025 from a 2016 base year;
2020 Progress: Combined Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions decreased by 22.2 percent since 2016;
Target 2: Reduce Scope 3 GHG emissions 15 percent per customer by 2025 from a 2016 base year;
2020 Progress: Scope 3 emissions intensity decreased by 14.5 percent per customer since 2016.
T-Mobile also set an industry first in 2018 by joining the RE100 pledge, a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. “A few years and one historic merger later, we’re still on track,” the T-Mobile spokesperson said, detailing this progress: “RE100 Pledge: Source renewable energy equivalent to 100 percent of our total electricity usage by the end of 2021. 2020 Progress: As the supercharged Un-carrier, 25.3 percent of T-Mobile’s electricity usage relied on renewable energy. 2021 Progress: We’ve signed renewable energy contracts for over 3.5 million MWh. Through June 30, 2021, we have sourced 75 percent of our electricity usage from renewable sources and are tracking to reach 100 percent by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, in 2019, Verizon set an ambitious goal to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2035 and committed to source or generate renewable energy equivalent to 50 percent of its annual electricity consumption by 2025. In January 2021, Verizon announced that it became a leading corporate buyer of U.S. renewable energy, entering into thirteen long-term renewable energy purchase agreements totaling nearly 1.7 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity since December 2019. Verizon also activated more than 8 megawatts (MW) of additional on-site solar energy at eight of its facilities during 2020. Since 2013 the company has installed more than 28 MW of green power at 26 onsite locations.
Two weeks ago, Verizon issued its Green Bond Impact Report, outlining the full allocation of the nearly $1 billion of net proceeds from its second green bond. Verizon became the first U.S. telecom company to issue a green bond back in February 2019. In September 2020, the company issued its second green bond, and remains the only U.S. telecommunications company to complete the full allocation of two green bonds.
“To date, we have issued $2 billion in green bonds that support the transition to a greener grid and help us achieve our ambitious goal of net zero emissions in our operations by 2035,” said Matt Ellis, Verizon’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. “Verizon’s green bond projects demonstrate our long-term commitment to minimize our environmental impact, drive operating efficiencies and benefit the communities we serve.”
Verizon has fully allocated the net proceeds of its second green bond entirely to virtual power purchase agreements for renewable energy projects. These projects are for approximately 1 GW of new renewable energy generating capacity across seven states, of which about 83 percent is solar energy generating capacity and 17 percent is wind energy generating capacity.
The use of proceeds from the bond is part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement. The Green Bond Impact Report can be found on the company’s fixed income investor relations site. For more information, visit https://www.verizon.com/about/investors/green-bond-reports.
Mike Harrington is a contributing editor
In the wake of Hurricane Ida’s path of destruction, power restoration to some areas of storm-ravaged southeast Louisiana could take weeks, hampering the efforts of the FCC and wireless providers to fully restore emergency and consumer cellular service.
The second-most damaging storm in Louisiana history — after Katrina, and the strongest storm ever to hit the state — the Category 4 Hurricane Ida caused widespread mobile wireless and fiber disruptions when it slammed into southeast Louisiana, knocking out most of the New Orleans metro area’s power and disabling much of AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile’s wireless services.
At the height of Hurricane Ida’s flooding and wind damage on Aug. 30, the day after hurricane winds made landfall, AT&T said that 60 percent of its network in Louisiana was working. T-Mobile said that around 70 percent of its network was in operation in Alabama and Louisiana on Aug.30, but did not disclose the specific effect on the latter state. Verizon did not disclose the peak effect of the storm on its network, but by Sept. 2, said that “90 percent of Verizon cell sites that were in the path of the storm are in service.”
By Sept. 3, an AT&T press release said that it had restored most services, and was “operating at more than 94 percent of normal.” The company added, “We now have a total of 23 on-air mobile cell site solutions supporting customers and first responders.” AT&T also said, “Despite commercial power outages, all of our wireline centers remain in service as we continue to place and refuel generators.”
Similarly, a T-Mobile prepared statement said that “some sites that were previously impacted in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were restored overnight as our crews have worked tirelessly to deploy large numbers of generators and rapidly power them up again.”
Around a quarter of cellular sites in southeast Louisiana remained offline by Sept. 2, though more than half of the towers initially knocked out had been repaired, according to a report from the FCC. About 700 of the affected area’s 2,759 cellular sites were still down. The affected area includes Acadiana and southeast Louisiana.
On Aug. 30, more than half of the cellular sites were down. About 61 percent of the remaining offline towers were without power, according to the FCC, and a little more than a quarter had sustained damage to their network that transports communications to and from the site. About 15 percent of sites had physical damage from the storm.
Another FCC report showed that as of 11 a.m. Aug. 31, 52 percent of 2,759 cellular sites across 31 Louisiana parishes were offline as a result of the hurricane. The majority of the downed towers — nearly 65 percent — were offline due to a lack of power, a problem that could persist for weeks in some parts of the state. In some cases, cell sites are down due to multiple issues, such as power outages, damage to the network or damage to the site itself.
On Sept. 3, the FCC took a series of actions to extend deadlines and waive rules to assist consumers, licensees and communications providers in Louisiana and Mississippi affected by Hurricane Ida. “The FCC is working around the clock in coordination with government partners and industry to support the restoration of vital communications services after the destruction of Hurricane Ida,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said on Sept 3.
“We’re extending deadlines for our universal service and other relief programs, including the Emergency Connectivity Fund and Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, to better assist consumers and providers in affected areas,” Rosenworcel said. “We are also extending filing deadlines for Form 477 broadband data reports, and extending filing and regulatory deadlines for wireless and public safety licensees in affected areas. Meanwhile, we will continue to support recovery efforts and monitor the effects of the storm nationwide. We offer our deep condolences to those who lost family members or whose homes and property were destroyed in this devastating hurricane.”
On Sept. 3, AT&T reported: “Our wireless network in Louisiana currently operating at more than 98 percent of normal. We continue to maintain and refuel more than 200 generators currently providing power to equipment there. Our wireless network in both Alabama and Mississippi are operating normally. More than 70 crews are continuing to work across Louisiana to keep our customers, their families and first responders connected”
AT&T also reported that it had deployed its FirstNet Communications Vehicle to a heavily affected area in Louisiana to provide an extra level of support. In addition to providing LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, this CV offers an air-conditioned command space for first responder personnel and is equipped with multiple monitors, charging stations, a television and a large exterior screen and speakers that can be used for briefings, according to AT&T.
The AT&T report also said, “In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, we are also preparing to launch FirstNet One, an aerostat blimp that functions as an LTE tower in the sky to support first responders and the extended public safety community in the area. FirstNet One will launch in Raceland, an area that includes a major hospital, a main roadway corridor to the Grand Isle community and is serving as a staging area for mutual-aid support. So far, public safety — spanning federal, state and local agencies — have made nearly 60 FirstNet emergency support requests for Ida.”
Meanwhile, the Verizon Response Team arrived in Southeastern Louisiana on Aug. 30 to deliver Verizon Frontline technology to first responders conducting search and rescue and disaster response operations in some of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ida.
The Response Team was pre-positioned just outside of the expected storm track, enabling a rapid response effort when conditions permitted and allowing the team to quickly distribute mission-critical communication technology to federal, state and local government and public safety agencies operating in storm-damaged areas of Louisiana.
According to Verizon, collaborating with emergency management officials across affected regions of the state, the Verizon Response Team has deployed a wide range of Verizon Frontline technology, including satellite pico-cells on trailers (SPOTs), network extenders, routers, mobile hotspots and phones to provide critical voice and data service to public safety professionals dealing with the devastation left in the wake of the powerful Category 4 storm.
Verizon said the Verizon Response Team is expected to remain on scene as long as needed to assist public safety agencies as it continues to conduct search and rescue operations and deal with widespread power outages, flooding and catastrophic storm damage. The Verizon Response Team provides on-demand, emergency assistance during crisis situations to government agencies, emergency responders, nonprofits and communities on a continuous basis.
Verizon Response team members provide Verizon Frontline technology including portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hotspots, free charging stations and other devices and solutions that enable communications and/or boost network performance.
By Sept. 6, most cellular service had been restored throughout Louisiana. However, there was still limited ability to transmit live out of the hardest-hit areas in southeast Louisiana, including parts of New Orleans and Houma, due to a lack of cell towers. Verizon is giving customers in hurricane ravaged areas unlimited data through Sept 10; AT&T through Sept 14.
Mike Harrington is a contributing editor.
AT&T was found to be the fastest carrier on a 4G network, but the rise of 5G technology has made T-Mobile the overall winner with the fastest network in the United States, according to PCMag’s 12th annual “Fast Mobile Networks” test published last week.
T-Mobile, the test found, has average speeds of 162.3Mbps, compared to averages of 98.2Mbps and 93.7Mbps for AT&T and Verizon, respectively. Verizon led the way in terms of maximum download speeds, with 2216.7Mbps, compared to T-Mobile at 1134.4Mbps and AT&T at 1090.9Mbps.
“T-Mobile has filled in most of the urban and suburban areas of the Triangle and Charlotte with its new 5G network, while AT&T and Verizon are largely waiting for some new airwaves which become available next year,” said Sascha Segan, lead analyst, mobile for PCMag who wrote the report.
The difference among the results comes down to T-Mobile’s adoption of mid-band 5G. “It’s mid-band spectrum, which T-Mobile calls “ultra-capacity” 5G,” said Segan. The mid-band spectrum, ultra-capacity 5G airwaves, acquired in the acquisition of Sprint “let T-Mobile’s network give consistent results between 150Mbps and 500Mbps of download speed,” Segan said. That’s why T-Mobile received high marks in many of the 30 major metropolitan areas and six rural areas where data was gathered to conduct the analysis, he said.
T-Mobile president Neville Ray shared that the carrier’s 5G infrastructure is accessible to some 165 million people, as of July, when Ray wrote a blog post highlighting that metric, and noting that the company anticipates 200 million people could have access to its 5G networks by the end of the year.
That ultimately pushed the carrier past its two competitors, Verizon and AT&T, in the tests conducted by PCMag this year. Verizon invested in mmWave 5G technology in 2017, said Segan. Meanwhile, T-Mobile made a different choice, which was the acquisition of Sprint and the subsequent upgrading of what Segan called a “massive cache of largely unused mid-band airwaves,” converting those into 5G infrastructure.
Verizon allows developers and businesses to build and deploy applications at the edge of its wireless network in Chicago, Houston and Phoenix. The company highlighted these cities as new locations where it made available its service, Verizon 5G Edge, a real-time cloud computing platform offered together with AWS Wavelength to bring AWS compute and storage services to the edge of Verizon’s wireless network. Since the launch of Verizon 5G Edge in August 2020, companies have offered 5G mobile edge computing (MEC) via Wavelength Zones in 13 of the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas for a variety of applications such as machine learning, internet of things (IoT), and video and game streaming, according to Verizon. As Verizon described it, the combination of 5G Edge and AWS Wavelength minimizes the latency and network hops required to connect from an application hosted on AWS to the end user’s device.
“Many innovators are already testing their solutions at the edge of Verizon’s 5G network with AWS Wavelength including Aetho, the makers of Beame,” a statement from Verizon reads. “Aetho is working with Morehouse College to create a 3D, fully interactive, online version of the campus so prospective students can tour the campus with an experience that feels like it’s in-person without traveling to the school. Beame provides augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR) communication and collaboration to deliver meaningful engagements through photorealistic 3D avatars.”
According to Verizon, using 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength, Beame is enabling Morehouse College, an HBCU, to offer students and prospects a high-fidelity co-presence experience with super-low latency. Using Beame’s application on their smartphones or AR headsets, students and prospects can be teleported into an XR experience and interact with Morehouse ambassadors and admissions staff in near-real time, the statement reads.
“With 5G and MEC, we saw material performance improvements in retaining nearly instantaneous co-presence, which really helps bring the XR experience to life,” said Harrison Lee, chief executive officer of Aetho.
José Mallabo, vice president for marketing and communications, and chief marketing officer at Morehouse College, said that by using augmented reality and other extended reality platforms to extend the college’s integration of education and technologies into the admissions process, the college continues to reimagine the student experience from prospect through graduation. “Building a widely accessible interactive engagement on the 5G Edge spatial computing platform is an evolution of Morehouse’s historic traditions as a trailblazer and innovator in higher education,” he said.