Verizon's has now published key preliminary findings from its fourth-quarter earnings report for 2018, revealing stable gains with strong retail postpaid net adds at 1.2 million and a marginal increase to churn over the previous quarter. The latter figure came in at 0.82-percent, up quarterly from 0.8-percent.
Of its total network additions, 54-percent are reported as net phone adds. At 650,000 the mobile provider's postpaid numbers on that front are actually up by 27.45-percent going into Q1 2019 as compared to the start of the reported quarter — falling in at around 510,000 at the end of Q3 2018. Executive Vice President and Head of Verizon Wireless Ronan Dunne indicates that places the company on solid footing to hold its position as it begins to roll out 5G in 2019.
Addressing a smartphone sales lull
In spite of Verizon's initial figures, the smartphone industry itself is currently experiencing a downturn. That's forced the company to make some difficult decisions as 2018 progressed and leading into 2019 — which may ultimately have saved the company from experiencing substantial losses.
Verizon actually began restructuring back in early 2017 in order to prepare itself for next-generation networks and associated services as well as address slowing smartphone sales resulting from users keeping devices for longer. The mobile operator wasn't experiencing losses year-over-year at the time but chose to split into three primary groups regardless — Network and Technology, Media and Telematics, and Customer and Product Operations. Those were intended to remain the same on the public-facing side of the business but with each segment to be placed individually under strong management to head off any problems.
Verizon's restructuring appeared to have continued well into 2018 with reports a considerable shakeup taking place in October. The move reportedly saw as many as 300 top-level employees re-interviewed and shuffled around. Positions were swapped both to keep the company stable amid changing market conditions and a deeper focus on OTT media offerings. Because the market is still relatively flat, further changes were confirmed in December following reports in September of 2018 indicating that voluntary job cuts would be underway.
In total, the company revealed it would be releasing 10,400 employees who had agreed to compensation equaling up to 60 weeks' of salary, plus bonuses and benefits. Those workers were scheduled to be leaving in stages — at the end of 2018, in March 2019, and in June 2019 — but could be let go early if the need arose and their individual jobs were no longer required. The sizeable drop in employees wasn't entirely unexpected due to the state of the market but the approach the company took to the layoffs did allow employees to leave on good terms.
Verizon's sharp focus on maintaining adaptability over the past 12 months as well as its attention to detail in handling the touchy circumstances surrounding employee layoffs have almost certainly impacted on its ability to compete over that period. That appears to have worked out well for the carrier, allowing it to build momentum in the run-up to 2019 and the 5G era. However, these are preliminary results and the full results may tell a different story when they release. The company is presently scheduled to release all of the details surrounding Q4 2018 on January 29.