Meet the CTOs in wireline: Verizon’s Roger Gurnani

This story is part of a broader Meet the CTOs feature that introduces all of the major network operator CTOs across the wireless, telecom and cable industries. To read about top network CTOs from other companies, click here.

Who he is: As the executive vice president and chief information and technology architect for Verizon, Roger Gurnani oversees the company’s wireless and wired broadband networks as well as its global Internet network services. He was a founding officer of Verizon Wireless and until 2005 served as the carrier’s vice president and CIO, helping to oversee the integration of the domestic wireless operations of Bell Atlantic, Vodafone AirTouch and GTE. Prior to being named to his current position in January 2015, Gurnani was executive vice president and CIO for Verizon Communications.

Gurnani is an Auburn University graduate and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering.

Where he is: Gurnani reports directly to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and helms a team of senior vice presidents who lead the company’s efforts in technology strategy, network planning technology, global IT technology services, IT security and digital ecosystems. Gurnani is responsible for developing and guiding Verizon’s technology strategy and investments, and his role includes network and technology planning, development of architecture and roadmaps, continued evolution of digital platforms and oversight and direction for the CIO and CTO teams across Verizon.

What he’s doing: Gurnani essentially serves as both CIO and CTO of Verizon, so his purview is immense. He oversees both the wireless and wireline networks of Verizon as well as focusing on IT and digital technologies. So he helps determine how technologies are leveraged internally at Verizon as well as how they are used to serve customers.

In the company’s wireline business, Gurnani is charged with developing the company’s technology architecture. However, Verizon’s David Small is in charge of actually building and executing Verizon’s wireline network efforts. Small reports to Verizon’s John Stratton, who is executive vice president and president of Verizon’s operations, including Verizon Wireless, Consumer and Mass Business, Verizon Enterprise Solutions and Verizon Partner Solutions.

In Verizon’s wired telecom business, Gurnani’s oversight ranges far and wide. For example, he’s involved with Verizon’s plan to invest $300 million over the next six years to lay 800 miles of FiOS cable in Boston in a move that not only will pit it against Comcast in the fiber-to-the-home market but also lays the foundation for the deployment of 5G offerings. And he’s likely aiding Verizon’s efforts to virtualize its systems; indeed, Verizon plans to have all of its relevant network functions in a virtual environment by the end of 2018.

But Gurnani’s biggest project on the wireline side of the carrier’s business may sit in its work with NG-PON2. Verizon earlier this year launched a NG-PON2 equipment test in its Innovation Lab in Waltham, Massachusetts, signaling the next stage of its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) evolution.

By implementing NG-PON2 technology into its FTTP network, Verizon will be able to support up to 40 Gbps of total capacity and symmetrical 10 Gbps speeds for each customer on a single fiber.

It’s that kind of architecture planning that Gurnani is uniquely positioned to oversee, particularly as Verizon works to expand 5G network technology beyond lab trials to widespread commercial deployments around the world.