Fixed wireless access (FWA) and cable players may be bitter rivals in the broadband market, but it seems both camps are leaning into the idea consumers don’t actually need the multi-gig speeds fiber competitors are offering. Speaking during an investor conference, Verizon CTO Kyle Malady dismissed the multi-gig hype as a “marketing game.”
To be clear, Verizon offers its own residential fiber product through its Fios service and launched a 2-gig tier for fixed subscribers in New York City last year. In October, the operator told Fierce it planned to expand the multi-gig tier across more of its Fios footprint this year.
However, Verizon’s primary focus in the broadband market has been its fixed wireless access product, which offers plans ranging from 300 Mbps to 1 gig. And during the conference, Malady said the operator will actually need to convince the market that having multi-gig service to the home “doesn’t matter.”
“There’s very few people in our base who use the full two gigabits of max capacity at any given time. As a matter of fact, the average user uses far, far, far less than that. It’s turned into really a marketing game, frankly,” he stated. “It’s going to be incumbent upon us to show people the value and ease of use of a fixed wireless offering and the benefits it can bring above just pure speed.”
That argument sounds a lot like what cable operators have been saying in response to challenges from fiber players offering symmetrical multi-gig services. In March of last year, then-Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge argued symmetrical offerings amounted to nothing more than “a marketing claim” because consumers don’t yet have a need for multi-gig upstream bandwidth. Charter is apparently so confident in this belief that its network upgrade path only provides for asymmetrical multi-gig services – with downstream speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps by 2025 and upstream speeds maxing out at 5 Gbps.
In terms of what exactly Verizon’s pitch to consumers might look like, CEO Hans Vestberg noted its FWA product only takes minutes to self-install. That provides an advantage over fixed services which require a truck roll to turn up, he said.
He added Verizon will also have a time to market advantage over wireline competitors, allowing it to scoop up demand before others can build fixed infrastructure.
“It took us 22 years to pass 17 million households with fiber. 22 years. That’s how hard it is,” Vestberg said. “We basically had 30 million households covered with fixed wireless access in less than one year.”
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