& cplSiteName &

More 4G Muddling: Verizon Brands AWS XLTE

Sarah Thomas
5/19/2014
50%
50%

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 donít 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

(17)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First        ADD A COMMENT
sarahthomas1011
50%
50%
sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/19/2014 | 4:37:10 PM
Marketing
So what do you think, does assigning catching names to network upgrades help attract customers or just confuse them? How would you prefer operators market their networks (keeping in mind that they're 30 second spots and ads that need to be catchy, impactful and accurate all at once...).
danielcawrey
0%
100%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/19/2014 | 4:54:21 PM
Re: Marketing
I don't think that Verizon can escape the buzzwords. But this is very true, the idea of "4G LTE" doesn't mean anything to most consumers. And the idea of saying "small cells" in marketing might make people think that handsets are going to be getting smaller when we've all seen the exact opposite is happening. 

I don't know the answer to this, but the messages from these operators sure makes it hard for me grandma to go buy a phone. 
sarahthomas1011
50%
50%
sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/19/2014 | 5:04:56 PM
Re: Marketing
I think the small cells are clearly about network infrastructure improvements in that commercial...but I agree that it's confusing to know who is the best, fastest, etc, but we're probably trained not to trust anything marketers say anyway.

I do think that the carriers have traditionally had labels associated with them -- AT&T fastest, Verizon best coverage, Sprint unlimited, T-Mobile cheap. That can be a good thing, but I think they are all trying to show another side when it comes to their networks now too.
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/20/2014 | 6:18:05 AM
Re: Marketing
Shoulda called it "Double-Wide 4G" or similar. :-)
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/20/2014 | 10:13:34 AM
Re: Marketing
That's been trademarked by a new MVNO targeting trailer parks :)
sarahthomas1011
50%
50%
sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/20/2014 | 10:43:07 AM
Re: Marketing
haha I like it! If Verizon is double wide, then Sprint is a "triple threat"?
DHagar
50%
50%
DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/19/2014 | 8:58:08 PM
Re: Marketing
@Sarah, I couldn't agree more!  You and danielcawrey are correct.  The customers want to know that they are getting a fast and reliable service.  As we go forward, that will only become more confusing as new options with 5G are available. 

(I am thinking they are trying to make customers think they always need the latest version - but I think this can easily backfire as people are buying results - they want the copies, not the machine)
sarahthomas1011
50%
50%
sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
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.
jabailo
50%
50%
jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/19/2014 | 11:36:35 PM
Heavy Duty?
Being a Clear Wimax user for eight years, I've gotten used to wireless broadband.  I realize that Wimax, now that Sprint owns it, is a dying protocol, but will any of these LTEs replace it...in the form of a highly available, unlimited download for streaming use, service...one that is a replacement for optical or cable? 

It would seem odd if we went backwards from having such a home service to only having LTE for mobile.

 
DanJones
50%
50%
DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/20/2014 | 6:16:44 AM
Re: Heavy Duty?
I think Sprint views their Spark upgrade as their replacement/upgrade on WiMax.
jabailo
50%
50%
jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
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
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
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.
DHagar
50%
50%
DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
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
50%
50%
sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
5/20/2014 | 1:15:50 PM
Re: Marketing
Turn what off? The network? Don't think that's possible!
sarahthomas1011
50%
50%
sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
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/
DHagar
50%
50%
DHagar,
User Rank: Light Sabre
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.

 
nasimson
50%
50%
nasimson,
User Rank: Light Sabre
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.
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
Congratulations to AT&T's Anne Chow, CableLab's Dr. Jennifer Andreoli-Fang and Movandi's Maryam Rofougaran, our 2018 WiC Leading Lights winners.
Heavy hitters in cable, open source and optical networking make up the five women who are shortlisted for the Hedy Lamarr-inspired Female Tech Pioneer of the Year category.
Four worthy women from the worlds of cable, the enterprise, data centers and B/OSS make our shortlist for the year's Most Inspiring Woman in Comms.
Libelium and Movandi and their founders are pioneering new technologies that are already changing the game for IoT and 5G, respectively, making them startups you want to keep an eye on in 2018 and beyond.
Ten worthy women and two trailblazing startups made the shortlist this year for Women in Comms' Leading Lights awards. Winners will be unveiled soon at BCE.
Featured Video
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 17-19, 2019, Dallas, Texas
October 1-2, 2019, New Orleans, Louisiana
October 10, 2019, New York, New York
October 22, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events