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Verizon turns corner in Q4 with 217K postpaid phone net adds


After several quarters of lackluster performance, Verizon showed some improvement in Q4 reporting 217,000 postpaid phone net adds in the quarter. This compares to Q3 when Verizon added just 8,000 net postpaid phone subscribers in the quarter.


But the company’s Business group continues to outshine its Consumer business. Verizon Business accounted for 176,000 of the 217,000 postpaid phone net adds for the quarter and the Consumer group added just 41,000 postpaid phone net adds in Q4. Total retail postpaid net adds for Q4 were 1.43 million and 2.6 million for full year 2022, a 23.2% increase from full-year 2021.

Verizon President and CEO Hans Vestberg touted the company’s progress during its quarterly call with investors. “We are encouraged by the improvement and will build on the momentum,” Vestberg said.

Of course, a key contributor to the company's retail postpaid net add growth was its fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband business. Verizon added 379,000 FWA customers in the quarter. The company’s consumer group accounted for 262,000 of those 379,000 FWA net adds and Verizon Business tallied 117,000 of those FWA net adds. The company now has 1.4 million total FWA subscribers. But some investors were disappointed in Verizon’s results. New Street Research said in a note that while the company’s fixed wireless adds were better-than-expected its wireless net adds were “disappointing.” New Street analysts said that they anticipate slowing growth in the wireless industry and increased competition from T-Mobile and the cable industry will make it difficult for Verizon to return to subscriber growth in 2023.

Vestberg said that the company is on track to meet its goal of securing 4 million to 5 million FWA customers by the end of 2025. He also said that the majority of the company’s consumer FWA customers are riding on its newly deployed C-band spectrum.

When asked about concerns over capacity for those FWA customers, Vestberg said that initially the company deployed about 60 MHz of C-band spectrum in most of its markets but that later this year the company will have more C-band spectrum available and can deploy 160 MHz of spectrum in some markets and even as much as 200 MHz in certain markets enabling it to support more users and applications.

He also said the company is in the midst of deploying its 5G standalone (SA) core, which will enable it to offer faster uplink and downlink speeds and provide more innovations such as network slicing. On the prepaid side, Verizon reported a loss of 175,000 net prepaid adds for the quarter and a prepaid churn rate of 4.9%. According to Bill Ho, analyst with 556 Ventures, the company has lost a total of 530,000 net prepaid customers since Q4 of 2021 when it acquired prepaid provider Tracfone.

Vestberg told investors during the company’s call that Verizon is still in the midst of integrating its Tracfone customers and moving those that were on competitor’s wireless networks over to Verizon’s network.

By contrast, the company’s retail postpaid churn rate for the quarter was 1.06% and its postpaid phone churn rate of just 0.89%

Verizon reported wireless service revenue of $18.8 billion for Q4 and $74.4 billion for the full year. Consumer wireless service revenue was $61.5 billion, up 9.6% from the full year of 2021. Verizon said this increase was due to increased adoption of its premium unlimited plans, its pricing increases that occurred in June and its inclusion of Tracfone results.

Total Verizon Consumer revenue for the quarter was $26.8 billion and $103.5 billion for the full year. Total Verizon Business revenue was $7.9 billion for the quarter and $31.1 billion for the year.

2023 Guidance

For the coming year, Verizon said that it is expecting wireless service revenue growth of 2.5% to 4.5% and an adjusted EBITDA of $47 billion to $48.5 billion. New Street Research analysts were disappointed with this guidance, noting that they had expected EBITDA to grow.

Verizon also said it believes its capital spending will decline to a range of $18.25 billion to $19.25 billion for 2023. In addition, it will wrap up its C-band deployment by spending the final $1.75 billion of the $10 billion it allocated for it. Further, Verizon said that it expects its capex spending in 2024 to be around $17 billion, which is the lowest amount in a decade.

Vestberg also said that the company’s Global Services group, which was formed in 2022 to create more efficiencies and reduce costs, will deliver $2 billion to $3 billion in cost savings by 2025.

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