Verizon will densify its network and refarm its existing spectrum in order to keep its advantage on network speeds and coverage according to Matthew Ellis, the carrier’s chief financial officer. Ellis made the statement at an investors conference, where he answered questions regarding the network's performance and subscriber numbers. Ellis noted that Verizon continues to densify its network in urban areas, where a more closely-packed base station setup will help in boosting capacity. Similar to what Sprint and T-Mobile have been doing with their LTE infrastructure, Verizon is also deploying small cells in densely-populated and capacity-strained areas. Adding small cells offloads a percentage of mobile data traffic from surrounding base stations, reducing instances of congestion and increasing the data speeds achieved by subscribers. Small cells also improve the reliability and consistency of LTE networks by serving areas that larger base stations fail to cover.
The carrier’s senior executive also mentioned that it will refarm its spectrum and deploy additional frequency in areas where there is increased demand for mobile data. Recently, the carrier transferred its last PCS spectrum holding in New York City from 2G CDMA to LTE, with only the 850MHz band running on older cellular standards in the area. This trend will continue until the carrier completely shuts down its 2G CDMA network by the year 2019. Verizon's CFO noted that right now only around 50% of its licensed spectrum is used for LTE, and it still has to fully roll out its remaining AWS-3 frequency holdings. Verizon also aims to improve spectral efficiency by implementing LTE-Advanced technologies like carrier aggregation and MIMO antenna setups, which allows for more data to be transmitted using the same spectrum.
Within the last few years, Verizon has offered more expensive plans compared to the competition, but in return, subscribers get a more reliable and widespread network. However, recent network improvements made by smaller and cheaper rivals like T-Mobile and Sprint are slowly making this selling point less effective. Thus, the largest carrier in the United States resorted to offering unlimited data plans to reduce churn rates and improve its subscriber numbers, even if it results in reduced average revenue per user (ARPU). Verizon has been successful in this regard, as it gained more than 358,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2017.