Verizon hints at FWA expansion next year

'We're going to have to come back and explain where we want to grow that business longer term,' said Verizon's Sowmyanarayan Sampath, hinting at growth beyond 4-5 million FWA customers.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies

May 14, 2024

3 Min Read
Sowmyanarayan Sampath, EVP and CEO of Verizon's consumer business
Sowmyanarayan Sampath, EVP and CEO of Verizon's consumer business.(Source: Verizon)

A top Verizon executive said the operator expects to have 4 million to 5 million fixed wireless access (FWA) customers by the end of 2024. And he said that Verizon will unveil its growth plans for FWA beyond that target at some point in the future.

"We're committed to getting to 4-5 million FWA customers, and then we'll come back and explain how we'll grow beyond that," Sowmyanarayan Sampath, EVP and CEO of Verizon's consumer business, said Tuesday at the MoffettNathanson Media Internet Communications Conference.

Sampath said Verizon currently has enough network capacity to support 4-5 million FWA customers, its target for this year. "We're going to have to come back and explain where we want to grow that business longer term," he said.

The financial analysts at TD Cowen recently predicted the FWA market will continue to grow.

"We expect T-Mobile and Verizon to increase their long-term FWA sub targets," they wrote in a recent note to investors. They predicted that T-Mobile will gain around 1.3 million more FWA customers this year, while Verizon will increase its total by 888,000 in 2024.

Verizon in 2022 said it would ultimately gain 4-5 million FWA customers by 2025. T-Mobile expects to gain 7-8 million by that time. According to the TD Cowen analysts, Verizon is around 68% of the way there with roughly 3.42 million FWA customers at the end of the first quarter.

Pushing growth

Verizon's Sampath acknowledged that the company's FWA growth was somewhat sluggish in the first quarter. He said the company decided not to sacrifice profits in the pursuit of extra customers during the period. He said growth accelerated in the month of March, and continues to remain steady.

To help fuel subscriber growth, Verizon is now reportedly offering new FWA customers a free Nintendo Switch.

But it's unclear how exactly Verizon might grow its FWA business beyond its current goal of 4-5 million customers by 2025. Executives in the FWA space have said that growth can be achieved by deploying more spectrum or more network infrastructure.

Verizon has said it plans to grow its millimeter wave (mmWave) FWA product starting later this year. During the company's recent quarterly conference call, CEO Hans Vestberg said Verizon would deploy a mmWave FWA product targeted at multiple-dwelling units (MDUs, or apartments) later this year.

Regardless, the FWA trend continues to have an outsized impact on the broader US broadband industry. According to the TD Cowen analysts, FWA operators will gain 2.6 million new customers this year, while fiber operators will gain around 600,000. US cable broadband operators are expected lose about 1.1 million customers in 2024.

"The most interesting dynamics in the US wireless market is happening in the FWA space. It has completely upended the broadband market. FWA has been directly responsible for vaporizing significant portions of Cableco marketcaps while creating new billion dollar revenue streams for the mobile operators," Chetan Sharma, analyst with Chetan Sharma Consulting, wrote on social media.

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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