The 2nd quarter results are in for cellular operators in the United States, and, for the most part, they show continuing growth, particularly in wireless data. The LTE growth of Verizon and AT&T is strong and last week Sprint rolled out their version in the PCS band.
As of July 19, the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network is available to more than 230 million people in 337 markets across the United States – nearly 75 percent of the population. Verizon Wireless reported 3.2 million LTE device activations in the 2nd quarter, up from 2.9 million in the first quarter and its most ever in a quarter. The company now counts 10.9 million LTE connections, up from 8 million in the first quarter.
AT&T Mobility posted solid wireless results in the second quarter, though it added fewer postpaid subscribers than a year ago and didn’t break out LTE numbers. They reported the highest-ever wireless margins, with operating income margin of 30.3 percent, and EBITDA service margin of 45.0 percent. AT&T’s 4G LTE network now covers 51 markets.
Sprint’s new FD-LTE network in the PCS band was rolled out July 15 in 15 cities. Before Labor Day, Baltimore, MD, Gainesville, GA, Manhattan/Junction City, KS and Sherman-Denison, TX, will be added. By the end of 2013, Sprint expects to have largely completed the build out.
Sprint expects to cover 123 million POPs with LTE by year-end, and 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2013.
Clearwire ended the quarter with 10.95 million total subscribers, up 43 percent from 7.6 million subscribers in second quarter of 2011. The company’s subscriber base consists of 1.3 million retail subscribers and 9.6 million wholesale subscribers, primarily Sprint 3G/4G smartphone customers.
The WiMAX provider reported a net customer loss of 41,000 subscribers in the second quarter as it prepares its TD-LTE network buildout. However, the company said it is making progress toward the LTE launch and will be in a stable financial position for the next year.
Clearwire currently offer 4G service in approximately 80 markets across the United States. Clearwire intends to launch 5,000 TDD-LTE cell sites by June 2013. The company said it remains on track to meet its target for the 2013 launch. The company’s cash position “provides us runway to be patient enough to strike not just any deal, but the right deal or set of deals for the company and its shareholders,” according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. The company said it had $1.21 billion in cash, cash equivalents and investments on hand at the end of the second quarter, down from $1.4 billion at the end of the first quarter. It expects to receive LTE payments from Sprint next year as well.