US Mobile Carriers: 2013 A Good Year

Preliminary 4th Quarter 2013 reports are coming in and the results are mixed, but generally strong. Previous consolidations have lead to 4 strong, independent carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile US.

Leap Wireless merged with AT&T in 2013 while Sprint inked a deal with U.S. Cellular for $480 million to aquire about 10 percent of U.S. Cellular’s subscriber base in the mid west. U.S Cellular is the fifth-largest wireless telecommunications network in the United States, behind Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile US. They serve about 10 million customers.

In October 2012, MetroPCS merged with T-Mobile USA for a combined 42.5 million subscribers.

The Wireless Average revenue per user (ARPU) has now hit equity; about $25/monthly for voice and $25/monthly for data, with data revenue now overtaking voice.

For 2013, the financials for wireless carriers in the United States appear pretty good:

  • AT&T’s preliminary Q4 2013 results show 1.2 million new postpaid smartphones added and 566,000 postpaid adds. AT&T’s consolidated revenues totaled $33.2 billion, up 1.8 percent versus the year-earlier period. AT&T says it will increase its LTE coverage to 300 million POPs by the end of 2014.
  • Verizon announced smartphone activations of 8.8 million along with 1.7 million new subscribers in the 4th quarter of 2013. Verizon continues to have a bigger postpaid customer base than AT&T at 96.2 million wireless customers compared to AT&T’s total of 72.6 million. Verizon now covers 273.5 million POPs with LTE, or roughly 89 percent of the U.S. population and expects to finish its initial LTE deployment by mid-year, 2014.
  • Sprint reported a US$1 billion loss for the 4Q 2013 with the slowest customer growth of the country’s four major carriers. Sprint managed nearly 477,000 total net additions in Q4 but, new contract customers shrank considerably, falling to just 58,000 new subscribers from 401,000 a year ago. The 477,000 figure was made up of 327,000 net new subscribers from its wholesale operations and affiliates as well as 219,000 from its own prepaid operations. Total Sprint subscribers now number 53.9 million, the highest yet. Sprint says 200 million people are now covered by LTE, and their Sprint Spark is available in 14 of the largest U.S. cities including today’s launches in Philadelphia and Baltimore.
  • T-Mobile US reported 4Q postpaid net customer additions of 869,000, compared to 648,000 in the third quarter of 2013. In the fourth quarter, T-Mobile added 1.645 million customers, bringing its total base to 46.7 million across postpaid, prepaid and wholesale. This was the third quarter in a row that the Company has generated more than 1 million customer additions. The company says its LTE network now reaches 209 million people, with 43 of the top 50 markets now served by 10+10 MHz LTE.

Talk of a Sprint/T-Mobile merger have now reportedly cooled amid a cool reception from Justice and the FCC.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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