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Is Verizon Buying Yahoo? A Resounding ... Maybe.

CFO Fran Shammo says the company is also considering selling data centers.

Roberto Machado Noa / Getty

Verizon is still considering a purchase of Yahoo, but said it needs to better understand the Internet company’s assets before deciding whether to make a formal bid.

“I don’t think anybody knows what’s under the hood,” CFO Fran Shammo said at a Morgan Stanley investment conference on Tuesday.

Shammo said the company is considering all kinds of merger and acquisition options, including both purchases and divestments. He confirmed that the company is still weighing, for example, whether to hold on to or sell its data centers.

“Is it better off outside of our portfolio?” he said. “We’re looking at that.”

Verizon is also pushing hard to bring next-generation 5G cellular technology to market ahead of many industry estimates. The company is testing 5G gear in five cities, including at its Basking Ridge, N.J., headquarters. There, the company is sending 5G to a van that drives around and is getting speeds in excess of a gigabit per second.

That, Shammo said, would be good enough to compete with home broadband, at least on speed. The question, though, is whether it can be made economically feasible to compete with cable and satellite.

When Verizon moved from 3G to 4G, it saw its cost per bit of data decrease by four to five times. Shammo said he expects 5G could offer similar or better cost savings, but said the testing is needed to prove that out.

Shammo said some 5G services could be commercially ready by next year, but said that depends on the Federal Communications Commission making available the needed high-frequency airwave spectrum. Shammo noted that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently toured the company’s headquarters to see the 5G van in action.

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