Verizon: Our network has been 'fantastic' in the era of unlimited data

Verizon CFO Image: Verizon
Verizon CFO Matt Ellis. (Verizon)

Verizon once again said its network is performing well in the era of unlimited data. And the company said it can continue to add capacity to meet ever-increasing demand.

The nation’s largest mobile operator has come under fire by critics who claim its network has slowed since the company launched an unlimited plan in February, joining its rivals who had previously introduced all-you-can-eat offerings. Third-party tests by companies such as Ookla and OpenSignal have since suggested Verizon’s data speeds have slowed, prompting T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray to say in July that the networks of both Verizon and AT&T have both “caved” under the strain of increased traffic.

Verizon CFO Matt Ellis confirmed that the operator has seen an increase in data consumption since the launch of unlimited plans, but claimed the network has kept up with the surging traffic.

“In terms of unlimited, certainly in terms of overall usage, we have seen increases on the network,” Ellis said during an investor conference this morning. “Really, it’s not at the peak times of the day. What we’ve seen is that (since) people no longer have a bucket of data they’re worried about, you see more usage spread throughout the day. And so you’re provisioning the network when it wasn’t getting used as much. So we’re happy with the results we’ve seen so far. The network performance has been fantastic and I think we’ve seen that in some of the third-party (test) results.”

Verizon also has plenty of spectrum to keep feeding that demand, Ellis said. But the carrier also has other ways of adding capacity beyond simply buying airwaves.

“There’s different ways to add capacity; spectrum is one of them,” he continued. “We’re very happy with the spectrum position we have—still only about 50% of our spectrum portfolio is supporting the LTE network, so there’s significant capacity…. (There’s) the AWS 2 spectrum that we bought two or three years ago, but only this year we started to see devices come to market that have that band in them, so as we start to (introduce) handsets in the base with that band we’ll start to see the benefits of owning that spectrum, but we don’t have that yet.”

Like its competitors, Verizon is also leveraging new technologies such as 4x4 MIMO and carrier aggregation, Ellis said, and those efforts coupled with its densification efforts have helped increase capacity by 80% to 100%.

“It’s not the same (LTE) network is was a few years ago,” he said.