US wireless market overview

Date: March 23, 2010
Pages: 27
US$ 1,495.00
Publisher: Ovum
Report type: Strategic Report
Delivery: E-mail Delivery (PDF)

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US wireless market overview
The seven main operators in the saturated US wireless market are each vying for a diminishing number of new wireless subscribers. Fierce competition is likely to continue and force further consolidation. Meanwhile, mobile broadband, 3G and wireless backhaul network upgrades, as well as 4G testing and deployment, will top operators’ agendas and investments over the next few years.
Executive summary
In a nutshell
Key messages
Simplified, flat-rate voice and texting plans clear the slate for wireless data services
Prepaid gains acceptance among US consumers
Mobile data usage will grow rapidly in the US over the next five years
Wi-Fi will help promote mobile broadband adoption and alleviate traffic issues
Ovum view
US market: the numbers
Minutes of use
Overview of services
Postpaid services
Prepaid services
Monthly no-contract plans
Prepaid is no longer just for smaller players
AT&T loses prepaid market share in 2009
T-Mobile loses its second place in prepaid
Leap diversifies services at the low end of the market
Wholesale services
Operators’ wholesale focus shifts from MVNOs to emerging devices
Family share plans
Family share plans keep churn down and ARPU up
Unlimited plans
Operators see unlimited plans as an upsell opportunity
Mobile data
Growth in US mobile data
Mobile broadband hastens new pricing models for mobile data
The highest ARPU comes from laptop users, but consumer handsets will drive revenue growth
Wi-Fi becomes an important part of mobile broadband
Wi-Fi isn’t just for big screen devices
Verizon offers free Wi-Fi – but not to smartphone customers
Operator networks and coverage
3G network updates
Additional wireless backhaul capacity is needed
CDMA operators require different network upgrade strategies
Operators claim LTE is coming in 2010
AT&T 4G plans
Sprint’s early lead in 4G will disappear when LTE becomes commercially available in 2011
Metro PCS puts its LTE plans before its mobile broadband offering
Net neutrality debate is high stakes for mobile operators
Key players
Connections market share
Revenue performance
Verizon Wireless
Verizon outlook
AT&T Mobility
AT&T accepts the benefits and pitfalls of being the exclusive US iPhone carrier
AT&T Mobility outlook
Sprint Nextel
Sprint improves its falling market position
Sprint leads market in ARPU
Sprint still betting on WiMAX
T-Mobile tries to disrupt the market with new services
Metro PCS
Better handsets and subsidies are key to Metro PCS’s strategy
Leap Wireless
Leap Wireless is not worried by a rise in churn
Tracfone diversifies its offering with StraightTalk and Lifeline services


Table 1: US operator year-on-year revenue growth, 2008–2009


Figure 1: US postpaid/prepaid connections mix, 2007–2014
Figure 2: US wireless voice and data revenue mix, 2007–2014
Figure 3: US voice and data ARPU forecast, 2007–2014
Figure 4: Top US operator postpaid subscribers, 2004–2009
Figure 5: US operators: prepaid connections market share, 2004–2009
Figure 6: US mobile broadband revenue growth, 2008-2014
Figure 7: US connections market share, 2004–2009
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