Verizon nets 558K postpaid phone adds in Q4

Verizon reeled in more than a million net postpaid wireless additions in the fourth quarter, including 558,000 phones.

The carrier on Tuesday reported 1.058 million retail postpaid net wireless additions in Q4. On the consumer side, Verizon counted 667,000 net postpaid additions, including 336,000 phone subs. Its business segment contributed 391,000 net adds including 222,000 phones.

Total postpaid phone churn was 0.81% in Q4.

Verizon’s total net postpaid phone addition tally across business and consumer compares to just 279,000 in Q4 of 2020. It’s also better than the most recent third quarter when the carrier added 429,000 net phone subs.

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It’s still lower than preliminary results from AT&T and T-Mobile, which have yet to disclose full Q4 earnings but earlier in the month reported 880,000 and 844,000 postpaid net adds respectively.

Verizon ended Q4 with 142.8 million total retail connections.

Total wireless service revenue grew 6.5% year over year to $17.8 billion. Verizon attributed the growth to a combination of higher average revenue per account (ARPA), more volume and the contribution from its acquisition of prepaid provider TracFone, which was completed in late November.

TracFone this year immediately took Verizon into the prepaid space it had been largely absent from, bringing around 20 million subscribers (most who were already using the carrier’s network). Verizon reported losing 85,000 prepaid net subscribers in Q4, with TracFone included in financial results since November 23.  

Verizon said revenue associated with TracFone in 2021 was $700 million higher than it was in the fourth quarter of 2020, when it was a wholesale customer. That includes around $500 million of incremental service revenue year over year.   

For the full year 2021 Verizon notched 4.7% wireless service revenue growth.

Verizon just kicked off its C-band rollout and now covers 95 million people. In 2021 Verizon spent around $2.1 billion on C-band as it prepared to deploy in 46 markets. For 2022 it anticipates additional capital expenditures for C-band to be between $5 billion and $6 billion as it keeps building out those markets and starts to prep for the second available batch of spectrum.

RELATED: Verizon, AT&T kick off C-band amid aviation overhang

In Q4 Verizon’s consumer wireless service revenue saw a bump of 7.7% year over year to $14.6 billion, as customers continued to step up into unlimited and premium unlimited plans, along with contributions from Tracfone. Around 60% of new consumer accounts in Q4 chose Verizon’s premium unlimited plan. By the end 2023, Verizon had put a target for 90% on unlimited plans with about 50% of that on unlimited premium.At the end of 2021 more than one in three of its consumer wireless customers, or around 34%, had a 5G-capable device.

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Business wireless service revenues were up 1.5% year over year to $3.1 billion, in a quarter that marked the best performance for quarterly net additions in the segment since the pandemic started. Verizon also saw wireless service revenue growth in its global enterprise business for the fourth quarter in a row. Overall business revenues declined 3% in Q4.

On the broadband side fixed wireless is increasingly part of Verizon’s focus and the carrier saw momentum in Q4. Verizon added 78,000 fixed wireless net additions for a total of around 223,000 at year-end. That’s an increase from the 55,000 it added in Q3 2021.

"2021 was a transformational year for Verizon that will serve as a catalyst for us," said Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg in a statement. "We delivered on all of our goals in 2021 and made great progress on our five paths of growth, finishing the year with strong operating and financial momentum. As we move into 2022, we have the necessary assets to realize our strategy that we laid out in 2019. We are laser focused on executing our 5G strategy and providing value to our customers, shareholders, employees, and society, as 2022 will be the most exciting year yet for Verizon."

For Q4 consolidated operating revenues were down 1.8% to $34.1 billion. The operator said growth in wireless service revenue and equipment was offset by continued declines in legacy wireline products. Adjusted EBITDA was $11.8 billion and net income was $4.7 billion.

For the full year 2021 consolidated operating revenues ticked up 4.1% compared to 2021, reaching $133.6 billion.