Verizon is banking on its 4G LTE network to help it stand out from the competition, but research shows it’s not drawing customers the way the company hoped.
The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based carrier said that only five percent of its customers have made the switch to its new data network, despite the fact that it now reaches more than 200 million Americans. The numbers are discouraging for Verizon, which has invested billions of dollars in a network that isn’t yet paying dividends.
The iPhone’s popularity is one of the biggest reasons for customer’s slow adoption of LTE. The iPhone is Verizon’s top-selling device, but it does not support the company’s LTE network, leaving the carrier’s largest faction of customers with 3G devices.
Customers are likely slow to adopt LTE handsets because of the early complaints about the devices. Analysts panned early LTE phones for having poor battery life and 4G coverage, leading many potential buyers to steer clear until the technology evolved. Current LTE phones are a sizable improvement on early models, but subscribers could still have preconceived notions about the devices.
Verizon has run several promotions to kick-start the sale of its 4G devices, but analysts criticized the company for not properly showcasing the value of the network to its customers. The carrier is now in a difficult position as it waits for widespread adoption of LTE. Most Verizon customers still run on 3G service, but the carrier does not want to spend any more money on improving it, preferring to save that cash for potential spectrum acquisitions.
Being the carrier with the top LTE network in the country is not an advantage for Verizon the way it expected, but the numbers are expected to change as the year continues. Prices for LTE devices are beginning to come down and Apple’s next iPhone will likely support the technology, which will likely bring millions of new customers to the network in a matter of days.
As Verizon finishes bringing LTE support to the rest of the country, handset prices become more affordable and the iPhone joins its catalog of LTE devices, the carrier’s new network could become the significant advantage it always hoped it would be.