Verizon’s Q2 LTE Sales: 1.2 Million New Subs, Still Behind Sprint in 4G Race

July 24, 2011

The numbers are in for Verizon’s second fiscal quarter of 2011, and from a 4G wireless provider standpoint the market leader is still Sprint by a pretty big margin, since Verizon only added 1.2 million new LTE subscribers during the most-recent fiscal reporting period.

Now 1.2 million devices ain’t shabby — by our unaudited account when added to the half-million previous subscribers that gives Verizon approximately 1.7 million subscribers on either smartphones or portable modems for the 4G LTE network it launched back in December. But that 1.2 million number is well below the 1.6 million 4G smartphones actived by Sprint during Q1, according to more unofficial Sidecut Reports math that put Sprint’s 4G subscriber number somewhere in the 4 million ballpark at the end of Q1.

Thought Sprint is due to report quarterly numbers later this week we probably won’t get a handle on Sprint’s 4G numbers until its network partner Clearwire reports its quarterly earnings in early August, thanks to the kabuki dance Sprint performs by not just coming out and saying how many 4G devices it has sold. But with several new 4G devices launched this year it’s safe to guess that Sprint probably added maybe another million 4G subs during Q2, so Verizon is still way behind in the 4G race after 7 months of playing, by a score of something like 5 million to 1.7 million.

(I guess that is why the world needs analysts and reporters, to sort through the fiscal gymnastics. Since this is free of charge — you’re welcome! Especially all you scraper blogs. Thanks for the traffic.)

While Sidecut Reports wasn’t available to listen in on the call this past week — hey we were part of a great webinar on Thursday, you should listen to it — scouring the transcript of Verizon’s call on Seeking Alpha we didn’t see much “color” from the Verizon execs on 4G numbers. You can begin with Verizon’s reluctance to even break apart its “1.2 million LTE devices” number into segments of how many of those were smartphone subs and how many were LTE modems, either USB modems or the portable Wi-Fi hotspot models.

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CTIA Updates: Verizon on 4G LTE Cruise Control

March 30, 2011

Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead at CTIA keynote panel. Credit: Sidecut Reports.

Whether by luck or by design, the decision by Verizon Wireless to basically do nothing public at last week’s CTIA show worked out perfectly, leaving the nation’s top wireless carrier (for now) looking unruffled, unworried and pretty much unconcerned about the pending acquistion of T-Mobile by Verizon’s biggest competitor, AT&T.

It is somewhat understandable that Verizon took a break at CTIA — after all it’s had a pretty busy news schedule for the start of 2011, what with its over-the-top LTE device announcement at CES in January followed by the “We’ve got the iPhone” gymnastics in early February. Still, by not having any public event at CTIA Verizon didn’t have to spend time on its own stage answering questions about AT&T or T-Mobile. Instead, Verizon execs like wireless CEO Dan Mead got to play it cool whenever they were asked about the pending deal, as if there were a corporate edict to simply shrug and look unconcerned whenever the topic came up.

Mead’s reluctance to say anything at all about the AT&T deal, much less denigrate it in any fashion, is perhaps borne a bit by necessity — should Verizon want or need to do a deal of its own in the future, it doesn’t want any hypocritical comments out there. So for Big Red the big wireless show was all about execution and talking as much as they could about their 4G LTE network, which finally got its first smartphone just before the show opened up. (And that device earned a quick rave review from the notoriously tough Walt Mossberg, more good news for Verizon and HTC.)

For the rest of 2011, it looks like Verizon is in full execution mode as it tries to sell consumers and business users on the merits of its 4G implementation, even though the plans associated with the network only allow “unlimited” use via the phone handsets so far, and not through bandwidth-crunching devices like tablets or USB modems for laptops. The only announcement the company made during CTIA was to more clearly list all the small cities that will get LTE service sometime in 2011, a year during which Verizon should overtake Sprint and Clearwire in the number of markets served by a true 4G service.

That’s a lot of blocking, tackling, and tower-site building, so perhaps Verizon can be excused for being so boring at CTIA. Mead, for one, could only ironically thank motormouth Jim Cramer for being a Verizon customer, and stayed out of any verbal jabbing with his CEO counterparts Dan Hesse of Sprint and Ralph de la Vega of AT&T Mobility during their joint panel session. The most stirring things said by Mead were straight promo stuff, like this line — “This is the most robust network in the world. We’re proud of this LTE network.”

Not the kind of thing to grab a headline, but for Verizon that’s not what CTIA was about. Instead, it’s about building success on top of the 4G network they have already launched, and making it live in more places with more devices. Not a bad kind of boring, from many points of view.

CTIA Updates: Sprint — The Uneasy Leader of 4G?

March 28, 2011

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse at CTIA. Credit: Sidecut Reports

You knew Dan Hesse was taking this chairman of CTIA thing seriously when he showed up in Orlando last week wearing black dress shoes instead of his surfer-casual Vans. But Dan’s plans for another blockbuster CTIA were waylaid by the AT&T-T-Mobile takeover announcement, an industry-shattering news event that put a big stink on Sprint’s plans to show itself as a cellular leader.

Without a doubt, Sprint still had the coolio introduction of the show in the mind-bending HTC EVO 3D phone alongside a true 4G tablet, also from HTC. In its usual cutting-edge hip fashion Sprint paid to slice off a largish amount of the show floor to stage its 3D press event, with a small media stage and a whole bunch of nightclubby couches intermixed with gratutitous food stations and even an open bar serving up martinis just after lunchtime on Tuesday.

But even though media types and regular boothgoers crowded the Sprint stations to get a hands-on demo of the eye-popping 3D phone (you really have to see one to experience the coolness of the device) the whole week felt like AT&T had just set off a big stink-bomb at the Sprint party, because every appearance, every panel session and just about every hallway conversation revolved around the new new question: How the heck will Sprint be able to compete as an incredibly distant No. 3 in the U.S. cellular market?

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