US Mobile Market Update – Q1 2021

The US wireless industry ended 2020 on a record high and had a good momentum coming into 2021. As the country comes out of the pandemic, competitive intensity around 5G has increased and the usage is going up as well.

Industry revenue grew YoY and churn stayed at record low levels. T-Mobile again dominated postpaid net-adds. Cable companies are making measurable impact on postpaid vs. AT&T and Verizon. They also went past US Cellular in revenue and have Dish in their sights.

After the highest net-add quarter in history, net-adds slipped 33% driven by seasonality. Connected devices again dominated the net-adds though tablets slipped after a temporary surge in the last two quarters.

There was consequential movement in adjacent areas as we had predicted – fixed wireless, MEC, private networks, and new applications and services. T-Mobile is using its spectrum advantage to go after the low-hanging fruit of fixed wireless in certain markets while Verizon made investments in the MEC and private networks space. AT&T also continues to invest in the enterprise segment.

US picked up pace on the 5G front and is starting to match China in percentage penetration and has exceeded South Korea in number of subs. US has also outpaced China in 5G revenue. So, the “5G race” is in the eye of beholder, depending on the dimension of comparison, you can find a different winner.

In terms of actual data network traffic, Korea by far exceeds China and US in 5G mobile data traffic. In Q1, as expected, Korea’s 5G data traffic exceeded its 4G traffic for the first time. User consumption is typically 2.5-3x compared to 4G.

Topics covered in the research update.

  • Q1 2021 US Mobile Market Highlights
  • Post-Covid Wireless Industry
  • Scenarios that could unfold in US-China Tech Competition
  • US wireless market competition in 2021
  • 5G: Separating signal from the noise
  • Private Networks Opportunity
  • Huawei, OpenRAN, and the future of Infrastructure in the US
  • Global 5G Race Update
  • What to Expect in the Coming Months?
  • US Wireless Market Q1 2021 Analysis
    • Service Revenues
    • ARPU
    • Subscribers
    • Competition
    • 5G Progress
    • 4th Wave Progress
    • Connected Devices
    • Handsets

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