Verizon Wireless is expected to end up as the carrier with the most momentum in the second quarter when the dust settles after earnings reports, which will begin in earnest in two weeks.
An impressive quarter for Verizon's version of the iPhone 4, along with strong interest in the company's speedier 4G wireless network, helped it add an estimated 1 million customers. Best of all, they're the kind of customers willing to sign up for long-term contracts. A recent study by Localytics showed that Verizon already accounts for a third of all U.S. iPhone 4s, an impressive statistic considering the phone's February debut.
Certainly, Verizon can thank the iPhone for its expected strong showing. But there's another factor: an established, speedy 4G network. Sprint Nextel saw similar benefits from its 4G network in past quarters and, no surprise, AT&T has moved up its timetable for deploying its own next-generation network, which uses a technology called Long-Term Evolution.
Verizon's shiny new wireless network unsurprisingly drew in a lot of curious consumers. By comparison, Verizon's rival carriers saw only modest customer growth, while a few lost customers in the period. Sprint, which also has a 4G network--that doesn't look quite so superior anymore with Verizon in the game--is expected to lose contract customers.
Regardless of whatever losses Sprint might experience, 4G networks remain crucial to the carriers' efforts to lure customers, particularly customers who are willing to sign up for long-term contracts. Such customers are highly coveted because they're less likely to leave the carrier and more willing to spend additional money each month for the best smartphones and service plans. Prepaid customers, on the other hand, aren't bound by contracts and can leave anytime, and they're more likely to look for the best price regardless of carrier. … Read more