Verizon adds 558,000 net new postpaid phone subscribers in Q4

Verizon adds 558,000 net new postpaid phone subscribers in Q4
Verizon reported its results for the fourth quarter of 2021 today and announced that one out of every three Verizon subscribers now has a 5G phone. That comes as the carrier last week turned on its mid-band 5G radios using frequencies in the C-band. Verizon and AT&T decided to refrain from starting C-band service near some U.S. airports as regulators worry that 5G C-band signals can interfere with airplane altimeters making it dangerous to land an airplane during periods of poor visibility.

Verizon adds 558,000 net new postpaid phone subscribers during Q4

Last year, Verizon spent $2.1 billion on C-band 5G as the carrier embarks on a plan to offer these mid-band 5G signals in 46 markets. This year, the company plans on spending between $5 and $6 billion on C-band as it continues to debut mid-band 5G in more areas of the country. In addition, Verizon could be looking to pick up more C-band spectrum during the next auction.

As Verizon tries to correct the mistake it made by focusing first on high-band mmWave spectrum for mobile 5G, it hopes to add more C-band spectrum. The carrier figured that the sizzling fast download data speeds of 1Gbps or faster would attract consumers. But mmWave signals don't travel far and are easily blocked by structures. As a result, in the real world, very few users ever connect to Verizon's mmWave signals.

The mid-band 5G C-band signals may not be as fast as mmWave, but at speeds of 100Mbps to as fast as 300Mbps, they are fast enough for now. And since they travel farther than mmWave signals, more subscribers can access them. According to Verizon, 95 million people in the U.S. can now connect to Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband service.

During the fourth quarter, the nation's largest carrier reported a net addition of 1.058 million retail postpaid customers in with 558,000 phone subscribers. Dividing that up, consumer postpaid net additions came to 667,000 with 336,000 of them counting as phone subscribers.

On the business side, 391,000 postpaid net additions were counted with 222,000 rung up as phone subscribers. Total postpaid churn was 1.01% during Q4 while postpaid phone churn during the final three months of the year was .81%.

With over 1 million net additions in postpaid during the fourth quarter of 2021, Verizon saw a huge improvement compared to the 279,000 net increase it announced during the same quarter one year ago.  On a sequential basis, the 558,000 net additional postpaid phone subscribers added in Q4 topped the 429,000 that the carrier reported during Q3 of 2021 by 30%. As 2021 came to an end, Verizon had 142.8 million retail connections.

Verizon took over TracFone starting on November 23rd

Wireless service revenue rose 6.5% to $17.8 billion. The increase was driven by a hike in the amount of revenue generated by each account, volume growth, and the acquisition of TracFone Wireless which took place on November 23rd. TracFone added 20 million subscribers to Verizon's pre-paid customer list (although to be fair, most TracFone subscribers already were using Verizon's wireless network).

The number of Verizon prepaid subscribers declined by 85,000 during the fourth quarter. Revenue related to TracFone during the fourth quarter rose $700 million over the revenue that the MVNO generated during the same three months in 2020 when it was a customer of Verizon, purchasing wireless service as a wholesale account.

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Commenting on the results, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said, "2021 was a transformational year for Verizon that will serve as a catalyst for us. We delivered on all of our goals in 2021 and made great progress on our five paths of growth, finishing the year with strong operating and financial momentum."

The executive added, "As we move into 2022, we have the necessary assets to realize our strategy that we laid out in 2019. We are laser focused on executing our 5G strategy and providing value to our customers, shareholders, employees, and society, as 2022 will be the most exciting year yet for Verizon."

Verizon is more than just wireless service. It also offers cable telephone, internet, and television service in nine U.S. states. All of Verizon's businesses reported earnings per share (EPS) of $1.11, flat with the same figure announced during the previous fourth quarter. After adjustments, the company reported EPS of $1.31, an 8.3% increase from the $1.21 EPS that Verizon announced during the 2020 fourth quarter.

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