Verizon was a pioneer in fiber broadband with its Fios product, having launched it well over 15 years ahead of the fiber frenzy we now find ourselves in. Fios was very much the heart of Verizon broadband, but that appears to be changing.
Today, and from all indications, the future of Verizon broadband is very much centered on its emerging fixed wireless business. Out of the 229K net broadband adds Verizon gained in 1Q22, 194K or roughly 85%, came from fixed wireless.
A year ago, fixed wireless only accounted for 20% of the company’s net broadband adds. Verizon added 3x as many fixed wireless subscribers, compared to Fios subscribers in 1Q22. Verizon executives are quite bullish on fixed wireless prospects.
“Consumers continue to see the benefit of the speed, reliability, and simplicity of installation of the FWA product and businesses continue to recognize that FWA can be a primary broadband access solution for all of their needs,” said Verizon CFO Matt Ellis on today’s 1Q22 earnings conference call.
Verizon has been aggressive with fixed wireless pricing, even offering a $25 plan, when bundled with a mobile 5G plan (and when opting in for Autopay). The service offers no data caps, and utilizes both 4G LTE and 5G technology, depending on coverage availability. Verizon cites 100 Mbps speeds for its 5G fixed wireless version.
Between business and consumer subscribers, Verizon broadband now counts 433K fixed wireless subscribers (as of March 31, 2022). That’s still a far cry from total Fios subs of just shy of 7 million. But it’s now clear where the momentum is.
That momentum should accelerate, given the ongoing expansion of C-band wireless spectrum, which powers much of Verizon’s fixed wireless momentum. The company expects to reach 175 million POPs with C-band coverage by the end of 2022.
Fixed wireless underlies a national broadband strategy for Verizon, dramatically expanding its home and business broadband access beyond the legacy ILEC Fios footprint of just the Northeast.
“This is a high quality product, the usage of the fixed wireless access is very similar to our Fios users, so this is a primary usage in the vast majority of all the cases when it comes to our fixed wireless access,” said Verizon CEO Hans Vestburg on today’s call. “In our case, as we said before, this means that we are nationwide with our broadband as we’re expanding our C-band and can address more and more households.”
Fixed wireless momentum in broadband extends beyond Verizon. T-Mobile reported earlier this week that it now has 1 million fixed wireless subscribers, more than double Verizon’s count.