Verizon’s Fixed Wireless, AI Position Carrier For Long-Term Success: CEO

‘Our network was built for AI. … As we are deploying 5G right now with the mobile edge compute and AI, this is a great long-term opportunity for us using AI. [There are] revenue opportunities with all the new technologies coming,’ says Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg.

Fixed wireless and AI are two big pieces of Verizon’s growth strategy in 2024 and beyond, according to the telecom titan.

Verizon’s total wireless service revenue was $19.5 billion, up 3.3 percent year over year, which the carrier said was driven primarily by pricing actions implemented in recent quarters, higher premium price plan adoption and growth from fixed wireless access offerings.

Specifically, the Verizon Business segment reported 151,000 fixed wireless net additions in first-quarter 2024, setting a new high for the carrier as it sees “strong demand” from small businesses and enterprises, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said during the carrier’s first-quarter 2024 earnings call Monday morning.

“[Fixed wireless access] is now a meaningful piece of our business. We knew that fixed wireless access would be a hit with consumers … businesses are showing similar excitement as this was our biggest quarter to date with net adds in business fixed wireless access,” he said.

[Related: Verizon Business CRO On Meeting The Needs Of SMBs And Why Partners Must ‘Push The Envelope’]

Overall, fixed wireless revenue for first-quarter 2024 was $452 million, up $197 million compared with the prior-year period.

Vestberg said that Verizon’s powerful network position has placed the carrier into a leadership position in AI. Verizon is using AI to not only improve its own network and customer experience, but it already has several major AI projects going live. The carrier is looking to establish an AI-based revenue stream by commercializing its network’s low-latency, high-bandwidth and robust mobile edge compute capabilities.

“Our network was built for AI … As we are deploying 5G right now with the mobile edge compute and AI, this is a great long-term opportunity for us using AI. [There are] revenue opportunities with all the new technologies coming,” the CEO said.

First-Quarter 2024 Financial Results

Total operating revenue for Verizon Business, which includes the company’s Enterprise, Business Markets, and public sector and wholesale businesses, dipped 1.6 percent on revenue of $7.38 billion during the first quarter compared with $7.50 billion in the year-ago quarter. The company said this decline could be attributed to pricing increases in January.

Enterprise and public sector continued to trend downward, falling 5.3 percent during first-quarter 2024 to $3.59 billion compared with $3.79 billion a year ago.

Business Markets and other revenue rose 2.9 percent during the first quarter to $3.20 billion compared with $3.10 billion in the year-ago period. Wholesale revenue fell 1.5 percent to $594 million during the first quarter of 2024 from $603 million one year before.

Verizon Business wireless service revenue in first-quarter 2024 was $3.38 billion, an increase of 2.7 percent year over year. These results were driven by continued strong net additions in the quarter for both mobility and fixed wireless, as well as cost increases implemented in recent quarters, according to Tony Skiadas, Verizon’s CFO.

Verizon Business reported 178,000 wireless retail postpaid net additions in the first quarter of 2024, including 90,000 postpaid phone net additions.

Verizon continues to see interest from large enterprises for the carrier’s 5G business offerings and private networking as evidenced by the deals the carrier is landing around the world, Vestberg said.

“More businesses rely on Verizon than any other provider to deliver mission-critical support for their day-to-day operations,” Vestberg said.

For the first quarter that ended March 31, Verizon reported operating revenue of $32.98 billion, up a slight 0.2 percent from $32.91 billion in the first quarter of 2023. The increase, according to the carrier, could be attributed to recent pricing actions.

The carrier’s net income was negatively impacted in first-quarter 2024, falling 5.9 percent to $4.72 billion compared with $5.02 billion a year ago. Verizon reported diluted earnings per share of $1.09 compared with $1.17 in first-quarter 2023, down 6.8 percent.

The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based carrier missed Wall Street’s expectations of $33 billion in revenue during the first quarter of the year.