Verizon’s fixed wireless business is booming while traditional cable operators find themselves in a broadband growth rut. It recorded 379,000 fixed wireless net additions in 4Q22, bringing Verizon’s total FWA base to nearly 1.5 million subscribers.
Verizon still expects to have 4-5 million FWA subscribers by the end of 2025, and CEO Hans Vestberg is adamant that the wireless provider has enough capacity to support that base and many more customers to come. “We have multi-usage of our network, that has been sort of the basis for this, meaning the same radio base stations are serving mobility, device access and mobile edge compute and we’re not doing separate,” he said. “In the distant future… we can always come into decisions of splitting cells in order to get more fixed wireless access, but that’s far away from now. We have ample capacity for the guide and much more than that.”
Verizon is continuing to invest in fiber in an effort to expand capacity and create better experiences for both its FWA and Fios subscriber bases. Approximately 50% of its sites are now served by fiber, according to Vestberg. The Fios broadband business grew by 59,000 net additions in 4Q22. Total revenue for the quarter was $35.3 billion, up 3.5% YOY, driven largely by service and equipment revenue.
Companies offering both broadband and wireless services have been fielding questions about convergence and bundling strategies for some time. The industry trend toward selling products together, when possible, isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and Verizon has begun seeing more success with it in its business segment rather than in the consumer space.
“I think the trend will continue, given the consumer research we’re doing and the consumers we’re talking to. But it’s actually not only consumers, you have to think about small and medium businesses as well, making it convenient for them,” Vestberg said. “If you look at our numbers this year both on fixed wireless access and mobility in the business segment, SMB has been very important for us.”
Total wireless service revenue came in at $18.8 billion, a 5.9% increase YOY. Postpaid phone net adds were 217,000 with retail postpaid net adds hitting 1.43 million. Total retail postpaid churn sits at 1.14%. New Street Research believes Verizon’s results could be evidence, when combined with other comments made by T-Mobile and excitement from leadership at Charter, of another major quarter for cable operators offering wireless products.
“Verizon’s subscribers and ARPU both missed expectations. Service revenue missed, but not by as much as the combination of postpaid and prepaid service revenue, which means wholesale and IoT did better,” the firm said. “We have very little insight into this revenue line. We suspect Cable MVNO revenue was a bigger driver than IOT though. We anticipate Cable wireless subscriber growth of almost 30% y/y (we are above consensus).”
Those wishing to trade Verizon stock following the call had to wait to be able to do so after a technical issue temporarily froze some stocks. Verizon was one of the companies impacted this morning by a halt in stock trading on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday morning following an apparent technical issue. Trading ceased for entities including AT&T at approximately 9:30am ET with trading resuming for many 10-15 minutes later. The NYSE said the issue prevented the exchange from conducting opening auctions for some securities, and some trades for those impacted stocks could be voided.
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