Verizon Wireless would soon offer 4G LTE service to its prepaid customers, as Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T have done, here's some bad news.
FierceWireless is reporting that Verizon EVP and CFO Francis Shammo, addressing the Nomura Global Media Summit today (PDF transcript), indicated that Verizon will continue to restrict the use of its LTE network to its postpaid subscribers. In Shammo's words;
"So if you look at our 4G LTE network, that is strictly a postpaid retail network at this point. And that is the way it is going to stay at this point."
Shammo also said that the carrier wants to keep its 3G network fully utilized and will continue to be aggressive in selling its legacy 3G data services to prepaid and MVNO customers.
I take being "aggressive" to mean cutting 3G data prices and that is happening. Verizon is increasing the amount of data on its $60 prepaid smartphone plan from 500MB to 2GB and from 2GB to 4GB on the $70 plan. I also suspect that a wholesale 3G data price reduction by Verizon was behind America Movil's recent emphasis on Verizon over AT&T for BYOP and new smartphone sales. It may also have played a role in America Movil's acquisition of Verizon MVNO PagePlus.
The biggest problem with Verizon prepaid 3G is the dearth of available modern phones. The prepaid BYOP market is driven by used high end smartphones. But its been years since Verizon offered non-LTE postpaid phones and Verizon prepaid phones are blocked from Verizon MVNOs. Verizon prepaid and America Movil's StraightTalk and NET10 brands also actively block the activation of any Verizon LTE capable devices. With other Verizon MVNOs like TalkForGood or PagePlus, complex or pricy "flashing" is required to get LTE devices working and flashing doesn't work with all models. Verizon really needs to come up with a user friendly way to permit used LTE handsets to be activated on prepaid for voice, messaging and 3G-only data. At least Verizon and Straight Talk have begun selling some recent 3G-only Verizon network compatible prepaid handsets like Straight Talk's iPhone 5 and LG Optimus Showtime and Verizon' prepaid's LG Optimus Exceed.
Francis Shammo image: Verizon Wireless
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