Verizon reversed post-paid subscriber losses in the opening nine months of 2022 with gains in the final quarter, but CEO Hans Vestberg (pictured) cautioned future growth may be harder to find as the US operator scales back promotional efforts and device trade-in offers.
The operator recorded a net gain of 217,000 post-paid phone users in Q4.
On an earnings call, Vestberg explained current levels of promotional activity “are not sustainable for the industry in the long run”.
“Although we have participated to some extent in this dynamic expect us to pursue more ways to move away from the aggressive handset subsidies.”
Verizon’s post-paid growth was fuelled by its commercial division with 176,000 additions. Its consumer unit recorded a loss of 175,000 prepaid users.
Analyst Jeff Kagan noted Verizon made some progress towards addressing long-standing customer growth problems during the quarter, but told Mobile World Live it will likely continue to struggle in the short term.
Wireless service revenue contributed to a 4.2 per cent increase in consumer revenue to $26.8 billion. Full-year revenue of $103.5 billion was up 8.6 per cent.
“Although we have more work to do, I’m encouraged by the improvements and expect to build on the momentum in 2023,” Vestberg said.
Vestberg said Verizon is on track to pass 200 million people with its C-Band deployment in the current quarter and ahead of a goal of 250 million by 2024.
Verizon will get final clearance of all of its C-Band spectrum by the year-end, which Vestberg stated would enable peak download data rates of 2.4Gb/s on 161MHz and 200MHz versus the current 900Mb/s on 60MHz.
“At the same time, we’re also deploying our 5G standalone core”, Vestberg noted, explaining this will enable network slicing and voice-over-5G.
Verizon added 379,000 fixed wireless access customers to finish the year with 1.4 million.
During Q4, net income grew 41 per cent to $6.7 billion on revenue of $35.3 billion, up 3.5 per cent.
Verizon forecast wireless service revenue growth of 2.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent in 2023 and capex of $18.3 billion to $19.3 billion compared with $23.1 billion in 2022.
It faces an additional outlay of $1.8 billion on its final C-Band investment this year.