Verizon Loses Wireless Subscribers Despite Three Years Of 5G Hype

from the meet-the-new-boss dept

If you listened to Verizon fifth-generation wireless (5G) marketing at any time during the last three years, it went something like this: fifth generation (5G) wireless was going to absolutely transform the world by building the smart cities of tomorrow, revolutionizing medicine, and driving an ocean of innovation.

In reality, US 5G has largely landed with a thud. Studies showing how the US version is notably slower than overseas 5G (and in fact often slower than the 4G networks you’re used to). Actual innovative uses for it are hard to come by, and by and large consumers couldn’t care less.

If you ask consumers what they really want from a wireless network, it’s usually better coverage, and lower prices. So it’s not too surprising that despite all of its marketing hype, Verizon lost 292,000 “postpaid” (month to month, the most profitable customers) subscribers last quarter:

Verizon lost 292,000 consumer postpaid phone subscriptions, the metric used by the industry as an indicator of success. In a Friday press release on its earnings for the quarter, Verizon chalked the loss up to “competitive dynamics.”

But “competitive” dynamics in the U.S. market have eroded slightly since the T-Mobile merger reduced the number of overall competitors from four to three major players. T-Mobile continues to leech subscribers from Verizon in large part because it’s still widely considered the least annoying of the three; it’s all likely to get less competitive as investors pressure all three to compete less on price.

None of this is to say 5G isn’t important. It does provide faster speeds, lower latencies, and more reliable networks. But 5G was always a fairly unsexy evolution, not some amazing revolution. Verizon marketing, desperate to suggest the latter, often utilized claims that 5G would do things like help cure cancer. This ultimately associated the concept of 5G with hype, bluster, and unfulfilled promises.

Some of Verizon’s issues here are technical. Unlike T-Mobile, Verizon initially lacked middle band 5G spectrum, which provides both great range and very good speeds. Its network was initially heavily reliant on higher band millimeter wave spectrum, which offers great speeds, but has terrible range and struggles with things like signal penetration through building walls.

Things will all improve as Verizon and other U.S. wireless carriers acquire and deploy more middle band spectrum, but in the interim all of the overly effervescent 5G marketing did more harm than good.

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “Verizon Loses Wireless Subscribers Despite Three Years Of 5G Hype”

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Ben says:

what probably doesn’t help is that their tech support system “Verizon tech coach” is
a) not actually run by Verizon (its outsourced to Asureon, who also run the insurance/protection plan for phone replacements) and
b) focused entirely on sales of add-ons (connected home IOT stuff), rather than any sort of technical support. As in literally the only metric the employees are graded on is their sales. It doesn’t matter how good the tech support was, how nice they were or if the problem got fixed, if you didn’t sell the whole-home stuff, you were fired.

who the hell wants to deal with a company where their tech support is only interested in selling you some overpriced crap service?

Pixelation says:

Postpaid/hidden cost is the biggest issue

When so many people have limited budgets, hidden fees that change are one thing that will begin to annoy people. When they can go get a prepaid phone and know exactly what they are paying, without the risk of a big surprise bill at the end of the month, budget conscious people will tend to go that way.

Anonymous Coward says:


I had a prepaid plan once. The cost per minute never changed, but the minimum purchase went up. And the lifetime of the purchase went down (at first the minutes were good 3 months, then 2 months…). As I was an infrequent user of the cell phone, the effect was regular, steep, price rises. How is this better than hidden fees?

TFG says:

Re: Re:

The biggest difference with pre-paid and post-paid is that the price increases can’t catch you off-guard when you’re already on the hook for them.

With pre-paid, if I buy something, and they change the price, it will only affect me on my next purchase. I can choose not to. If they add a fee, it will affect the amount I’d have to pay to continue with the service, and I’m going to see that prior to making the purchase.

Due to the mechanics of it, they literally can’t sneak it in.

With post-paid, when I’m paying for the service after it’s already used and I’m therefore on the hook for it, they can sneak in more charges that I will only see once I owe them. Thus I can get a surprise bill that I can’t do anything about – it’s too late for me to choose not to use the service.

That is the primary difference.

Still Anonymous, Still Coward says:

Everything about the 5G rollout has been “I’m going to run head-first into this wall and blame everyone else when I break my nose”

The fact they killed 3G so quickly in hopes of forcing people to 5G seems to be one of these missteps that they think would create dollars, but instead only creates resentment.

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