Light Reading

Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets

Sarah Thomas
4/19/2012
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Verizon Wireless plans to let users start sharing their data plans among multiple devices by the middle of the year in a bid to boost overall customer data usage.

Verizon CFO Fran Shammo revealed the plan on the carrier's first-quarter earnings call Thursday, but didn't elaborate much. Verizon reported a solid quarter driven by growth in its postpaid wireless business, but Shammo said its attention is turning away from just adding more devices to its network to eking out more value from the devices that are latching on. (See Verizon Earns $3.9B as Data Usage Jumps ).

"We're extremely pleased with the growth of wireless business," Shammo said. "There will be other categories that drive wireless growth in the future," he added, referencing the data-share plan coming in mid-2012 that will let customers dip multiple devices into one bucket of data. That sharing would be extended to tablets, phones and machine-to-machine connections, which have been subject to increasingly complicated data plans.

Verizon has said it is looking at data-sharing features similar to what it offers families for voice and text buckets, but this is the first time the carrier has put a deadline on this sort of plan. Now that it no longer offers unlimited data, a sharable bucket of data could offer customers more flexibility. (See New Data Plans Keep It in the Family .)

Device drivers
The main reason Verizon is turning from net adds to data growth is that it had strong device sales across several categories in the first quarter. The carrier sold 6.3 million smartphones, including 2.1 million Long Term Evolution (LTE) phones. Now, 8 million, or 9 percent, of Verizon's customers are using LTE devices.

At the same time, it sold 3.2 million iPhones, but the carrier downplayed Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s smartphone in favor of talking up LTE. (See Verizon Goes All Out for LTE Smartphones .)

For its customers that upgraded in the quarter, 42 percent were first-time smartphone buyers. Shammo said Verizon is looking at converting the 53 percent that still use basic phones, as well as increasing average revenue per user (ARPU) for those customers. The average customer today spends $54 per month, $23.80 of which goes to data.

"We are very, very confident that we're on a path to accelerate the growth of our ARPU," he said.

LTE network update
Shammo reiterated Verizon's LTE leadership as well, noting that it has turned on the network in 230 markets, covering more than 200 million PoPs or two-thirds of country. It plans to have its nationwide 3G footprint covered by LTE by mid-2013, and Shammo said that consumer awareness of Verizon's LTE network is on the upswing. (See Verizon's LTE Blitz Reaches Two-Thirds of US and Where's Verizon's 4G Going Next?)

The CFO also mentioned that Verizon is interested in supporting a third platform, giving a nod to emerging players like Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows Phone. Verizon gave Android a boost in the beginning, he said, and it's looking to do the same with "the third ecosystem."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:35:56 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


I'm glad to see Verizon is making a commitment to shared data plans. It'd help out consumers who own both a tablet and a smartphone, as well as families. Plus, I'm willing to bet Verizon charges more for the ability to share data, so it's a win for them too.

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:35:55 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


Didn't listen to the call -- are they still doing the double data promotion on LTE phones?


Not hard to understand why the iPhone is still outselling their LTE phones, which they are apparently selling a bunch just by default (aka no other option). Without any innovation on pricing and with new devices at a premium to the iPhone and no compelling 4G only applications... we are sounding like broken records, no? But it's got to be disappointing for Verizon to have this shiny new 4G network and people still pick the 3G iPhone... does that mean that all that 4G marketing isn't working?

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:35:55 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


Didn't listen to the call -- are they still doing the double data promotion on LTE phones?


Not hard to understand why the iPhone is still outselling their LTE phones, which they are apparently selling a bunch just by default (aka no other option). Without any innovation on pricing and with new devices at a premium to the iPhone and no compelling 4G only applications... we are sounding like broken records, no? But it's got to be disappointing for Verizon to have this shiny new 4G network and people still pick the 3G iPhone... does that mean that all that 4G marketing isn't working?

SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:35:55 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


While Shammo didn't talk much about the iPhone, it still makes up more than half of its smartphone sales and over a million more than LTE phones. I just think Verizon wants to demphasize it, one, because the subsidies are hurting it, and, two, because it really needs to push more LTE phones. (Of course, this will all change when there's an LTE iPhone on the market.)

SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:35:54 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


Yep, they are still doing the promotion, and a spokeswoman says she doesn't know the end date for it.


I think it means iPhone marketing is just working better. If you don't go iPhone, you go LTE. And there definitely hasn't been any marketing from Verizon on why LTE is better than the iPhone...that'd be an interesting strategy.

jalawler
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jalawler,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:35:53 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


I've heard this announcement twice before; when will they attach a date?

gtchavan
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gtchavan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:35:53 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets
The killer app for for LTE is any app on iPhone 5, because you won't get the pesky message that says, find a wifi hub because your telco network is too slow. The real test for the stability of Verizon network will be iPhone 5.
SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:35:52 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


i hadn't heard the mid-year part before; just that they were exploring it.

jalawler
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jalawler,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:35:52 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


It looks like Lowell McAdam mentioned shared data coming in 2012 at the Dec. '11 UBS Global Media & Communications conference.  I thought Shammo also made a statement earlier this year mentioning mid-year, but that may not have been public.

SReedy
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SReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:35:49 PM
re: Verizon to Roll Out Sharable Data Buckets


Yeah, it was a pretty aggressive comment. I believe he actually said Verizon "made" Android...

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