Report: Verizon is testing several regional promotions

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) is testing a series of promotions in various markets across the country in advance of potentially launching a national offer, according to a report from Wave7 Research, which closely tracks competitive offers and promotions from the national carriers.

According to the report, Verizon has engaged in a "bake-off" with a variety of promotions in various markets around the country, "perhaps in advance of choosing a more aggressive national promotion."  

The promotions come after Verizon and AT&T lost phone customers in the first quarter. Verizon lost 374,000 3G smartphone customers and 385,000 feature phone customers in the first quarter. Overall, thanks to LTE smartphone additions and tablets, Verizon notched 565,000 retail postpaid net additions in the first quarter. AT&T added 711,000 postpaid tablets, which masked losses in feature phone customers; the company wound up adding 441,000 postpaid subscribers, implying that the company lost at least 270,000 phone customers in the first quarter. 

Verizon continues to offer a $100 bill credit for customers on its Edge equipment installment plan who port over to the carrier, plus an additional $100 is paid for trade-ins when a customer gets Verizon's newest Android devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and the HTC One M9). According to the report, Verizon said the $100 offer for any working smartphone will expire on May 10. 

However, according to the report, Verizon has started a number of other promotions:

  • In most of Texas (not including Houston and El Paso) and northwestern Louisiana, Verizon is now offering $300 to new customers, via a $100 bill credit and $200 for any working smartphone.  In this region, no port is required, with all gross additions eligible, whether they port or not and whether they choose Edge or a subsidized device.  Verizon's Texas/Louisiana region offers 10 GB of bonus data for customers who choose plans with 10 GB or more, the report said.
  •  In New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, and the Washington, DC, area, Verizon is now offering $200 to customers who port their number over, with guaranteed minimums only for select smartphones, the report said. Verizon is advertising this promotion on the radio in Chicago and Cleveland and is paying $300 for customers who choose a Galaxy S6.  In Los Angeles, Verizon is offering $150 or $200 for a Galaxy S5 and a radio ad that aired heavily in April promised a total of $300 for customers who choose Verizon and trade-in a Galaxy S5.
  •  In San Diego, Verizon is offering $300, via a $200 bill credit and $100 instant credit for any working smartphone.
  • In Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn., Verizon is offering $300, via a $100 bill credit for those who port their number and choose Edge and a $200 gift card for customers who trade in any working smartphone.
  •  In Cincinnati, Verizon is running a radio ad pitching $300 for customers who trade in a working smartphone (and get a $100) and port a number (and get a $200 bill credit).  The report said that a Verizon retail sales representative  contacted about this offer stated that to take advantage of the offer, customers must choose a plan on Edge with 6 GB or more of data.

 "Verizon has always offered regionally focused promos at different times across the country.  This isn't anything new," Verizon spokesman David Samberg told FierceWireless. He declined to comment on any future plans regarding pricing or promotions.

Earlier this month, during the company's first-quarter, earnings conference call, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo noted that the first quarter is typically slow from a promotional standpoint and indicated that promotions might be ramping up. "As you go into the second quarter and you enter into Mother's Day and Father's Day, I would expect that the promotional activity and competitiveness is going to heat up here," he said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by Verizon.

"It is likely that Verizon is feeling pressured, given its losses of phone subscribers in 1Q15, and is now doing a 'bake-off' to determine which promotion works best in advance of a larger national push," the Wave7 report noted.  "In the aftermath of Sprint's revised pricing launch in August 2014, Verizon did a similar 'bake-off' of promotions in various regions. The 'bake-off winner' was a $200 port-in credit that Verizon ran for the remainder of 2014 and the credit later became a $150 credit and then a $100 credit."

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