Verizon Q3 strong as it adds 5G consumer, business wireless subscribers

With Verizon Media off the books, the wireless and telecom giant can focus on 5G, broadband and business applications, said Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.

Verizon reported better-than-expected third quarter earnings as the company added 699,000 retail post-paid net subscribers.

The company reported third quarter net income of $6.6 billion, or $1.55 a share, on revenue of $32.9 billion, up 4.3% from a year ago. The revenue figure includes two months of Verizon Media and growth would have been 5.5% with an extra month. Verizon sold its media unit, which included Yahoo and AOL, to Apollo Global for $5 billion. Non-GAAP earnings for the third quarter were $1.41 a share.

Wall Street was expecting Verizon to report third quarter revenue of $33.2 billion with non-GAAP earnings of $1.36 a share.

With Verizon Media off the books, the wireless and telecom giant can focus on 5G, broadband and business applications, said Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. Verizon said it is seeing growth in its mix and match and unlimited plans for consumers and businesses. The company also expects to grow from monetizing its network, expanding 5G reach and delivering next-gen B2B applications. For instance, Verizon said its AWS Outposts edge computing offerings are now available

Vestberg said 5G is being adopted at a faster rate than 4G. 

For context, 12 months after 4G launch, 10% of the devices were on 4G. Less than 12 months after 5G DSS launch, more than the double were on 5G devices, and it's growing at a rapid pace. This, combined with our millimeter wave strategy, is an important combination, and that is paying off. In the third quarter, the total millimeter wave users more than doubled sequentially. We're doing more gigabit of users in a month now than we did in all of the first quarter. In some of our more established build-outs, we're seeing more than 20% of users on millimeter wave. And we are on track to have 5% to 10% of all traffic in the urban millimeter wave polygons by year-end.   

By the numbers:

  • Verizon added 423,000 consumer wireless retail postpaid net additions in the third quarter including 267,000 phone net additions and 223,000 connected devices. Verizon had 67,000 net tablet losses.
  • The company added 98,000 net FiOS Internet additions but lost 68,000 FiOS video subscribers in the third quarter.
  • Verizon added 276,000 net wireless business accounts in the third quarter including 162,000 phone net additions. Verizon said it was seeing strong demand from enterprise and SMB customers.
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As for the outlook, Verizon said 2021 wireless service revenue growth will be about 4% and adjusted earnings will be $5.35 a share to $5.40 a share. Verizon had projected 2021 earnings of $5.25 to $5.35.

The company added that capital spending for 2021 will be $17.5 billion to $18.5 billion as it expands its 5G mmWave reach and improves its 4G LTE network.