Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon, gave an interview to the SF Chronicle yesterday. In a shocking and unexpected development, he was critical of San Francisco’s interest in building a city-wide wireless network offering cheap or free Internet service. By an extraordinary coincidence, Verizon hopes to provide its own wireless Internet service, although Verizon seldom uses the words “cheap” or “free” to describe its own plans. Here’s the article about that interview.

Seidenberg went off on unrelated tangents, apparently determined to alienate Verizon customers, or possibly to fulfill some unspoken desire to be fired. Or perhaps he was running a high fever. Here’s the quote from the article. Remember, this is the chief executive officer of Verizon speaking.

“Seidenberg, for instance, said people often complain about mobile phone service because they have unrealistic expectations about a wireless service working everywhere. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone, is the state’s largest mobile phone provider.

‘Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?‘ he said. ‘The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement.’

“Seidenberg said it’s not Verizon’s responsibility to correct the misconception by giving out statistics on how often Verizon’s service works inside homes or by distributing more detailed coverage maps, showing all the possible dead zones. He pointed out that there are five major wireless networks, none of which works perfectly everywhere.”

“Why in the world would you think your cell phone would work in your house?” Honest, apparently that’s a quote. Do you suppose he slapped his forehead on the way down the elevator as it occurred to him – well, maybe consumers came to believe that because that’s the way Verizon advertises its service, because Verizon’s primary promotional pitch is free evening and weekend minutes when people are in their homes, because Verizon salespeople tell customers that the phone service will work in their homes, and because in short delivering wireless phone service to people is Verizon’s business. Or possibly it occurred to him that it’s not completely satisfying to say it’s okay for Verizon to suck because all the competitors suck too.

One of the most self-destructive interviews I’ve read in a long time.

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