Verizon's network 'has performed incredibly well' with unlimited: CFO

Verizon CFO Matthew Ellis

Verizon’s network is holding up well even as its launch of an unlimited-data plan increased traffic, CFO Matthew Ellis said. And the carrier believes it has plenty of ways to support more usage as it transitions to 5G.

Questions about the strength of Verizon’s network have grown louder since it launched an unlimited data plan in mid-February, joining its rivals and reversing course after years of decrying the wisdom of offering all-you-can-eat on a high-speed wireless network. Ookla this week said T-Mobile now operates the fastest LTE network in the country, topping second-place Verizon, and a study released by OpenSignal last month found that both Verizon and AT&T saw “a marked decline” in the speeds of their LTE networks since the carriers joined the unlimited game.

But Ellis said Verizon’s network has been up to the task. And customers continue to respond, he said, alluding to the 358,000 net postpaid phone additions the nation’s largest carrier added in the second quarter of 2017.

“We believe that the network performance, network leadership, is an incredibly important part of our strategy. I think we’ve demonstrated time and again that it does matter, and you see it matter not just in terms of the results on the network but the customers that come along with that,” Ellis said at an investors conference. “The move to unlimited helped us have a clear and competitive offering in the marketplace. The network has performed incredibly well since we’ve gone to unlimited; we’ve continued to add capacity and we have a number of tools that we have to add capacity.”

Verizon continues to densify its network, particularly in urban areas, Ellis continued, and it’s using next-generation technologies and strategies such as LTE Advanced to increase efficiency, boosting network performance. And while some have questioned whether it has ample airwaves to meet ever-increasing demand for mobile data, Ellis said Verizon has significant spectrum it can still put to use for 4G.

“Remember, we only have a little over 50% of our current spectrum holdings deployed in the LTE network today,” he said. “So we’ve still got AWS-3 spectrum to be deployed as handsets come out with that band in them. And then as we move more customers off of the 3G network we refarm that spectrum.”