US Mobile Market Update – Q1 2015


The US mobile data services revenue grew 4% Q/Q and 15% Y/Y. The overall services revenue declined 1%. The device revenue for the operators grew by 41% allowed the overall service revenues to grow 5% Y/Y.

We are forecasting that the mobile data service revenues will increase by 22% to $132 Billion in 2015. Verizon will become the first operator to generate more than $50B from data services in 2015.

After acquiring lusacell and Nextel Mexico AT&T became the biggest North American operator with over 136 million subs.

The average mobile data consumption (cellular) is approximately 2.5GB/mo. In the US, it took roughly 20 years to reach the 1GB/user/mo mark. However, the second GB mark has been reached in less than 4 quarters. An entire year’s worth of mobile data traffic in 2007 is now reached in less than 75 hours.

From 2010 to 2013, the data pricing declined by only single digits YoY. However, in 2014, the data pricing has plummeted by 77%. In Q1 2015, the data pricing stayed pretty steady.

The intense competition amongst the operators meant a 6% rise in OPEX QoQ and a 12% decline in CAPEX YoY. The income declined 4% while EBITDA grew modestly at 2%.

Smartphone penetration increased to 76% and roughly 95% of the devices sold now are smartphones.

4th wave services continue to grow at a very past face around the globe. At least 37 companies generated a billion dollar or more from 4th wave services in 2014 – a 311% jump from 2012.

The difference between Sprint and T-Mobile number of subs is just 300K subs now – the narrowest it has ever been. Like we suggested mid-last year, T-Mobile is likely to become the number three operator. This is more or less just a symbolic event with the transfer of bragging rights. Overall, churn was low for all operators in Q1 2015.

T-Mobile accounted for over 40% of the overall net-adds for the year with AT&T and Sprint coming in second at 26%. Verizon slipped to a distant fourth with only 8%.

Operator’s non-phone net-adds were 4 times that of the phone net-adds, highest it has ever been in the history of the industry.

M2M+Connected car is a billion dollar revenue stream for AT&T. M2M+Telematics will become a billion dollar stream for Verizon by 2016.

In our 4th wave series of papers, we had postulated for years that the 4th wave revenues will become bigger than any of the previous curves. This finally happened in 2014 in the US market with the revenues from the 4th wave applications and services built on top of the IP access layer surpassed both voice and data revenues.


Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blogtwitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Aug 2015.

Disclaimer: Some of the companies mentioned in this update are our clients.