Launching a 4G LTE network across a wide geographic area before rivals is helping Verizon(s vz), according to a report from Informa, which says 63 percent of the world’s current LTE subscriber base are Verizon customers. Informa expects Verizon to have the largest number of LTE subscribers (100 million) until China surpasses it in 2015. But the U.S. carrier isn’t resting on its laurels. It now offers a promotion that doubles the monthly amount of LTE data for smartphones with no extra charge.
Indeed, in the past 11 months, Verizon moved quickly to shore up a competitive advantage. The LTE network launched in December of last year, showed extremely fast speeds, has a number of LTE smartphones available and is on pace to cover more than 185 million Americans by year end. What has that speed to market done for Verizon? Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media said in an emailed press release:
Verizon has added around 2 to 2.3 million iPhone (s aapl) subscriptions every quarter in 2011, but new LTE subscriptions nearly tripled from 500,000 in 1Q11 to 1.4 million in 3Q11. Looking at a different metric, LTE accounted for 53% of Verizon’s total postpaid net subscriber additions in 3Q11, up from 30% in the second quarter. The bottom line is Verizon is increasing market share, subscriptions and revenues with LTE.
As a result, Verizon may be in a good position to combat AT&T’s (s t) comparable LTE network, which recently launched in five cities and is soon adding more markets. But Verizon’s broader LTE network still faces one challenge that AT&T’s doesn’t: It’s not backwards compatible with the carrier’s 3G technology. In contrast, AT&T doesn’t have the same problem since LTE networks are based upon GSM standards that AT&T has long used.
Perhaps that’s why Verizon is running a desirable promotion right now. With the purchase of any new LTE smartphone, Verizon is doubling the monthly 4G data limit at no extra cost. The $30 plan that gets 2 GB of data now allows for 4 GB; the same doubling applies to Verizon’s 5 GB and 10 GB plans, which are currently $50 and $80 per month respectively.
Not only does this take some of the focus away from AT&T’s new LTE network; it helps address another problem for LTE handset owners. The faster speeds are fantastic, but that means it’s easy to blow through a monthly data cap in a shorter time. Thanks to the aggressive new promotion, the risk of hitting that limit is cut in half.