AT&T Adds 11 4G LTE Markets; But Expect its Sales to be Slow, Like Verizon’s

January 5, 2012

For a company that has spent most of the past few years defending a sub-par infrastructure, AT&T looked impressive today, announcing 11 new markets for its next-gen 4G LTE service. But as impressive as that sounds, you can expect sales of phones for AT&T’s new network to be slow, trailing far behind the ho-hum numbers being generated by Verizon Wireless, whose LTE network covers far more markets than AT&T’s.

If you’ve been following our coverage of Verizon’s LTE experiences, you can surmise that the same problems keeping folks from buying 4G LTE phones from Verizon — a lack of compelling new devices or applications, plus a general interia of preference for the Apple iPhone — will hit AT&T, probably even harder since AT&T will have the additional hurdle of trying to convince folks to buy phones that don’t work in every U.S. market just yet. Kevin Fitchard over at GigaOM points out quite clearly another flaw in that even in its “live” markets, AT&T doesn’t have anywhere near full coverage, making it even a tougher sell to the network-savvy folks who are likely to be the first customers for a 4G device.

While we expect to hear more news about forthcoming LTE devices from AT&T at its annual developer conference next Monday, the current crop of LTE-capable smartphones for AT&T has the same pricing problem of Verizon’s roster — the AT&T LTE phones range in price from $199.99 to $249.99, the latter a premium over the basic iPhone pricing of $199.99. So — kudos to AT&T for building out its needed next-gen network a little faster than expected. But that shouldn’t mean any pickup in 4G LTE phone sales, if Verizon’s history is any barometer.

Want more detail on why we see a reluctance in the marketplace to buy 4G LTE phones? Buy our 4G LTE MARKET REPORT for January, 2012, for just $1.99, downloadable immediately.

Verizon Sells 4.2 Million iPhones in Q4 — At the Expense of 4G LTE?

January 4, 2012

In widely quoted comments made at an investor conference Wednesday, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said the company sold 4.2 million iPhones during the fourth fiscal quarter of the year — but apparently didn’t say anything about 4G LTE sales numbers, since none of the reports we read had any 4G figures.

UPDATE: In a replay of the event we heard Shammo say that Verizon had sold “2.2 million 4G devices,” which we are guessing is probably about a 50-50 split between phones and other 4G devices like USB modems and Wi-Fi hotspots, as it has been for Verizon throughout 2011. That means Verizon sold around 1.1 million 4G LTE phones in Q4 — almost a 4-to-1 ratio of iPhones to 4G LTE phones sold.

If you have been reading Sidecut Reports you will not be surprised that we will guess that the number of 4G phones sold by Verizon in Q4 was well below 4 million, and possibly even below the 800,000 or so the company sold during Q3. Why isn’t Verizon’s 4G LTE taking off? Well you can buy our handy report that explains all that in 16 pages of great detail. Here’s a hint: One of the reasons why is the popularity of the iPhone over any Android-based competition, 3G or 4G. But there’s more to it than that, which is why you should read the report.

Verizon Stumbles Into 2012, Extends LTE Data Promotions Into January

January 3, 2012

Once the Tom Brady of the cellular-services league, Verizon Wireless is looking a lot more like Tim Tebow these days, struggling from some uncharateristic lapses in service and a major public-relations gaffe as the calendar turns to 2012. And in what might be a signal that its 4G LTE service still isn’t generating the kind of sales Verizon would like, the company is continuing its double data promotions for new 4G LTE phones in January, as evidenced by some new TV commercials airing during the big bowl game broadcasts.

In December, Verizon suffered not one, not two but three separate LTE outages, a breakdown so unusual that the company actually provided a spokesperson to speak with the GigaOM blog to explain its side of the story. In previous LTE outages Verizon had taken the silent approach, not commenting other than to say “the network’s working again.” But its mea culpa to GigaOM’s Kevin Fitchard (where Verizon tried the sympathy route, saying as the leader they deserved to have some “growing pains”) is just one sign that the big rule-the-air thing isn’t up to the usual Verizon network standards.

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