Verizon reports industry-leading 143 million retail logins

Verizon released its first quarter numbers on Friday and that quarter included the launch of its C-band 5G network. This was important for the carrier because when it started building its mobile 5G pipeline, Verizon decided to first on its 5G mmWave broadband service. But these signals don’t travel too far and are easily blocked by structures. So while mmWave offers the fastest 5G data download speeds, good luck trying to find a signal.

Without any mid-band spectrum to speak of, Verizon spent $45 billion in an FCC auction to license mid-band spectrum in C-band. While these signals aren’t as fast as mmWave, they are more easily found by subscribers because they travel longer distances than mmWave. And then Verizon is downright sneaky.

Verizon lost 36,000 net retail postpaid phone subscribers in the first quarter, fewer than Wall Street expected

The country’s largest operator considered its mmWave service its Ultra Wideband plan, marketing it as Ultra-Fast. But what Verizon didn’t tell subscribers was that it was ultra-impossible to find mmWave coverage. So instead of expanding the coverage of its Ultra Wideband service (which would have been quite an expensive undertaking), Verizon in March changed the definition of its Ultra Wideband service to include midband 5G signals in C-band.

As we pointed out above, C-band speeds are lower than mmWave, but they are more readily available. So while more Verizon subscribers will see the UW on the status bar of their 5G phones, it no longer indicates that they are connected to Verizon’s fastest 5G signals. In other words, while mmWave 5G download speeds peak at 1 Gbps and average 300 Mbps, 5G over C-band peaks at 300 Mbps and averages 150 Mbps.

All of this exciting drama took place in the first quarter of 2022, which happens to be the period covered by today’s earnings release. And while it may have nothing to do with changing Verizon’s Ultra Wideband coverage, the carrier lost 36,000 net retail postpaid phone accounts in the first quarter of 2022. That beat estimates by a down 49,000 and was a 79.8% improvement from the 178,000 net postpaid phone accounts Verizon lost in the same quarter last year.

The number of postpaid accounts during the first quarter increased by 269,000 on a net basis, compared to a loss of 170,000 during the same period last year. The number of retail prepaid accounts fell by 80 million from the addition of 19,000 the previous year. Total retail wireless net additions were 189,000 compared to a loss of 151,000 in the first quarter of 2021.

The average revenue per postpaid account was $144.87 per month

After the first quarter, Verizon had 35,224 postpaid accounts, up 0.1%. Each account had 3.38 logins giving Verizon more than 119 million postpaid logins, up 2.1% year over year. The carrier saw the number of prepaid connections increase from 4.06 million to 23.77 million thanks to the acquisition of MVNO TracFone which was finalized in November. The total of 143 million retail connections leads the industry.

Retail postpaid phone churn was 0.83%, while retail postpaid churn was 1.04%. Retail prepaid churn was 3.69% (prepaid churn is generally higher than postpaid, as subscribers may decide to select a new carrier at the end of each month. Total churn at the retail fell from 1.14% in the first quarter of last year to 1.48%).

Average revenue per account on the company’s postpaid side was $144.87, up 2.2% from $141.74 a year ago in the first quarter. Average revenue per prepaid user for the first quarter reached $30.89, down 13.4% from $35.66 in 2021. This figure also appears to be impacted by the purchase of TracFone.

Wireless service revenues increased 9.5% to $18.34 billion and equipment sales increased 28.2% to $6.34 billion. Total wireless revenue for Verizon was $26.5 billion in the first quarter, up 11.7%. Verizon now expects wireless revenue growth for all of 2022 to be at the low end of its 9-10% range.

Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg said, “The January launch of C-Band and the expansion of our 5G Ultra Wideband network have helped amplify our fixed wireless momentum for both consumers and enterprises, with quarterly additions 2.5 times our fourth quarter performance, and gave impetus to wireless upgrades.

The executive added: “We continue to accelerate the construction of our C-Band network with our goal of reaching at least 175 million people by the end of the year and, with the recent early announcement of spectrum compensation, we now have the ability to deploy more of this spectrum a full year sooner.”

About Timothy Cheatham

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