More 4G Muddling: Verizon Brands AWS XLTE

Calling non-LTE networks 4G used to be marketers' biggest blunder, but now, new flavors of 4G are emerging to mystify and confuse consumers.

First came Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s Spark network, and now Verizon Wireless 's XLTE, the moniker it will use to brand the Advanced Wireless Service spectrum it is deploying across the US. Verizon says this is a "consumer-friendly way of describing the added capacity that is being delivered to Verizon Wireless customers by activating our 4G LTE service on our AWS spectrum."

Verizon wants its customers to know that its AWS is a big deal for its network; not just your run-of-the-mill 4G. That's all well and good, but I worry it's just muddying the waters yet again. All consumers care about is the fact that the network works as advertised; not what brand of LTE it is. Considering that "XLTE" is only available in half of its LTE markets, I wonder if it will further confuse its customers that don’t have access to it or phones that support it... or if they'll even notice. (See Verizon Leads With Double-Wide 4G.)

Interestingly, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is taking a somewhat different approach by trying to educate its customers on the things it is doing to improve its network, actually mentioning the phrase "small cells" in its commercials. (See AT&T Talks Small Cells, DAS in New Ads.)

I'm not really sure which approach is the better strategy, but the 4G LTE brand twisting is enough to make you dizzy. It will only get worse with 5G too. Check out Verizon's new commercial as part of its XLTE campaign, and let us know your thoughts on how to market mobile in the comments section below. (See Ready or Not, Here Comes 5G and EE Makes the Case for 5G .)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
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nasimson 5/31/2014 | 4:33:23 AM
At times operators dont want customers to understand When there will be early 5G: trials, partial adoptions, partial migrations; there will be a marketing mess. At times operators dont want customers to understand what they are choosing, buying, using and paying for.
DHagar 5/20/2014 | 1:34:58 PM
Re: Marketing @Sarah, sorry - was not clear from several messages ago.  I was referring to the customer - if they don't understand the new devices, services, etc., they will turn off and quit listening to marketing or other messages.

sarahthomas1011 5/20/2014 | 1:30:32 PM
Verizon VoLTE Looks like Verizon is the one that will have advanced features at launch on VoLTE, even though AT&T beat it to the touch. The carrier tells GigaOm it will include video calling and HD voice at its TBD launch this year: http://gigaom.com/2014/05/20/verizons-voice-over-lte-service-will-include-facetime-like-video-calling-at-launch/
sarahthomas1011 5/20/2014 | 1:15:50 PM
Re: Marketing Turn what off? The network? Don't think that's possible!
DHagar 5/20/2014 | 1:15:00 PM
Re: Marketing @Sarah, that's what I am thinking.  But people will turn off if it doesn't become familiar and easy to understand.
sarahthomas1011 5/20/2014 | 10:43:07 AM
Re: Marketing haha I like it! If Verizon is double wide, then Sprint is a "triple threat"?
sarahthomas1011 5/20/2014 | 10:42:20 AM
Re: Marketing You do have to have specific handsets to take advantage of the AWS spectrum. I wonder if they are hoping to upgrade customers on their devices by making them think this latest and greatest is necessary. Much more explanation is needed, but hopefully that happens in stores.
MordyK 5/20/2014 | 10:15:39 AM
Re: Heavy Duty? Verizon is trying to do that in the areas where their networks were destroyed by Sandy, but sadly no unlimited plans.
MordyK 5/20/2014 | 10:13:34 AM
Re: Marketing That's been trademarked by a new MVNO targeting trailer parks :)
jabailo 5/20/2014 | 9:57:54 AM
Re: Heavy Duty? I see that Tacoma, WA has just been added to their markets.

They are just south of me here in Kent, so maybe I'll get in their coverage area!  

Althought I'm already reading about issues like throttling after 5Gig of downloads (that's two and a half netflix movies!), and they shut off the data channel if a phone call comes in!

Sprint's Spark LTE network disables data when handling calls
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