Verizon’s new 5G monetization strategy ‘a losing battle’

Posted on June 28, 2023

Verizon’s new 5G monetization strategy ‘a losing battle’

Verizon this week slimmed down the number of its 5G pricing options. But the operator continues to position its speedy midband 5G network as a premium offering that customers need to pay extra for.

That, according to one financial analyst firm, may not fly in an industry where Verizon’s competitors aren’t charging extra for fast 5G.

“Trying to convince customers they have to pay extra for 5G UWB [ultra wideband] service is likely a losing battle as consumers are likely aware other providers will provide midband 5G for free,” wrote the financial analysts at KeyBanc Capital Markets in a note to investors of Verizon’s new pricing plans.

But the executive driving Verizon’s new 5G strategy argued that the operator is making the right decision by putting 5G at the heart of its new pricing gambit.

“It’s the network,” said Verizon’s new Consumer Group CEO, Sowmyanarayan Sampath, during a recent investor event, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. He said Verizon’s “ultra wideband” 5G network is the operator’s “advanced network with all the bells and whistles.”

He added: “We have the best network on Earth.”

That, of course, is up for debate. Although Verizon continues to cite research showing the superiority of its 5G network, its rivals also make the same argument based on other competing research.

Broadly, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are all in the midst of upgrading their 5G networks with midband spectrum in an effort to offer faster connections. But T-Mobile has enjoyed a headstart on the effort, and partly as a result is gaining customers amid an improvement in customers’ perception of its network.

Going from six to two

In its new announcement this week, Verizon said it would replace its previous pricing plans (dubbed “Mix & Match” and stretching across six options) with a new offering called “myPlan” that offers just two choices: Unlimited Welcome for $65 per month for one line of service, and Unlimited Plus for $80 per month for a single line of service.

The main difference between the two choices is that Unlimited Welcome doesn’t give customers access to Verizon’s “ultra wideband” 5G network and Unlimited Plus does. Unlimited Plus also offers 30GB of hotspot data and won’t cap or slow customers’ speeds. Unlimited Welcome presumably will include caps and throttles, though Verizon officials didn’t provide details. Update: After the plans launched, Stetson Doggett noted on Twitter that Unlimited Welcome will connect to Verizon’s “ultra wideband” network but will throttle speeds to 25 Mbit/s.



Verizon introduced two new pricing options that put 5G at the center of the customers' decision. Click here for a larger version of this image. (Source: Verizon)

Verizon introduced two new pricing options that put 5G at the center of the customers’ decision. Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Verizon)



Verizon’s “ultra wideband” 5G network runs over its midband and highband, millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum holdings, while its standard 5G network only works on its slower, lowband network. (The operator is poised to add more midband spectrum into its network later this year thanks to ongoing C-band clearing efforts.)

Verizon doesn’t specify exactly how fast its various 5G options are, but noted that its “ultra wideband” 5G network is 10x faster than its 4G network.

After customers choose which flavor of Verizon 5G they want, then they can add “perks” to their plan ranging from international data to additional hotspot data to the Disney+ streaming service. Each “perk” costs $10 per month. Verizon’s Sampath said Verizon earns an average of 30% gross margin on the sale of such perks.

The wider context

Verizon’s new pricing plans come at an important time for the company.

First, the company is struggling to reverse almost a year of customer losses. Those losses stand in stark contrast to the millions of new customers that T-Mobile, AT&T, Charter Communications and Comcast have gained during the same period.

In part to address the situation, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg recently put Sampath in charge of Verizon’s consumer business after a short stint leading the company’s business division, among other executive shuffling. And the changes appear to continue to ripple through the company; Verizon’s longtime marketing chief, Diego Scotti, recently left the company, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Sampath, for his part, appears to be making a big bet on Verizon’s new plans. He argued they would help rekindle growth among Verizon’s customer base.

Moreover, like other executives in the space, he predicted that overall growth in the wireless industry will slow in the coming months. He said he expects the industry to eventually grow by 5-6 million customers each year, rather than the 10 million-customer-per-year pace it’s been growing in recent years.

That slowdown might be a good thing for Verizon, he said. “It’s actually better for an incumbent like us to continue driving more pricing power in the market,” Sampath argued.

Some remain skeptical.

“Verizon’s new rate plans will raise prices for many consumers who opt to purchase add-on services,” wrote the KeyBanc analysts. “Both of these are likely headwinds for gross additions. Verizon’s basic pricing is still 2x+ the comparable offering of the Cable providers. Further, Verizon has been trying to convince investors of their ability to migrate consumers to higher tier rate plans, and while this could be ARPA [average revenue per account] accretive if multiple ‘perks’ are purchased, we don’t believe consumers receive incremental value or allow Verizon to capture incremental value.”

Click here to read the full article from Light Reading.

AT&T, Verizon reach agreement for full-power C-band deployments

Posted on May 26, 2023

AT&T, Verizon reach agreement for full-power C-band deployments

AT&T, T-Mobile, UScellular and Verizon sent a letter to the FCC on Friday saying that they agreed to voluntary commitments related to air traffic safety and the deployment of C-band spectrum.

“These voluntary commitments will support full-power deployments across C-band, and are crafted to minimize the operational impact on our C-band operations,” the letter stated. Reuters first reported the filing on Friday.

The letter noted that in February 2020, the FCC adopted licensing and technical rules that serve to ensure coexistence between new C-band operations and radio altimeters operating more than 220 megahertz away in the 4.2-4.4 GHz band.

That’s worth noting because the wireless industry, including through CTIA, argued that, thanks in part to the 220 MHz guard band, C-band signals were far enough away from the altimeters to not cause harmful interference. But because older altimeters don’t “stay in their lane,” so to speak, they are susceptible to interference.

Included in their filing with the FCC are a list of C-band licensee voluntary commitments for certain periods of time and a list of 188 airports where C-band mitigation efforts are in effect. The operators pledged to continue to coordinate with the FAA on all outdoor base stations near the 188 airports and to submit to the FAA confidential coordination information at least 30 days prior to transmission. Some of the commitments last until 2028.

Verizon spent $52.9 billion, including incentive payments and clearing costs, for its C-band licenses. AT&T was the second largest bidder in the C-band auction and spent over $23 billion. But they couldn’t turn on C-band signals near airports at full power due to concerns by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aviation industry.

In a statement following Friday’s filing, Verizon said that after more than a year of close collaboration with government stakeholders, they agreed to final voluntary commitments that will allow the company to fully use its C-band spectrum for 5G by the previously agreed to deadline of July 1.

“As we’ve said from the beginning, C-band wireless operations and aviation can safely co-exist, something that’s been proven in the U.S. and around the globe. We remain very optimistic about our C-band deployment as it brings new 5G opportunities to our customers,” Verizon added.

AT&T issued a short statement, saying the filing “is the result of collaborative and productive conversations with the FAA.”

UScellular has been keeping the FCC apprised of its communications with the FAA ahead of its C-band deployment, which is later than AT&T’s and Verizon’s due to clearing out satellite incumbents and the phased approach to the spectrum.

Some consumer advocates pointed out that a lot of neighborhoods near airports are lower income and/or majority non-white communities.

“UScellular believes all Americans deserve the ability to connect to what matters most through ground-breaking technology as quickly as possible,” said Adriana Rios Welton, head of Legal and Government Affairs at UScellular, in a statement. “We can now use this valuable spectrum to connect the unconnected quickly and affordably with high-quality home and mobile broadband.”

Click here to read the full article from Fierce Wireless.

T-Mobile Makes Major 5G Commitments as Result of Sprint Acquisition

Posted on November 14, 2019

T-Mobile Makes Major 5G Commitments as Result of Sprint Acquisition

In response to the coalition of state attorneys general filing lawsuit to block the T-Mobile / Sprint merger, T-Mobile announces three major commitments to the public. While the FCC and DOJ have officially signed off on the $26.5 billion deal, state-led lawsuits continue to argue that the merging of these two major wireless carriers will create anti-competitive situation for American cellular consumers. T-Mobile’s commitments include two new affordable pre-paid offerings for customers, the “Connecting Heroes” program – offering unlimited 5G voice and text access to all first responders, and pledging $10 billion over the next 5 years to offer free internet to qualified households with students.

Click here to view a Fierce Wireless article regarding this subject.