US Mobile Market Update – Q1 2024

5G Industry Transition – We have worked on every single G transition and as we move into the 5G/6G cycle, we continue to stay heavily engaged with players across the ecosystem and around the globe from very advanced markets to just emerging. Chetan Sharma Consulting is involved in several 5G strategic projects across three continents, across the value chain, so, have a front row seat into what’s coming. We have penned 25 research papers on 5G already – most in-depth in the industry, many of them industry firsts, and have several in the works for the coming months based on what we are learning from our work on the ground.

Summary of US Mobile Market Q1 2024

The US wireless market has been slowly cooling down from the historic highs of 2021. Despite the slower growth, and falling net-adds, operators had yet another $50B service revenue quarter and postpaid revenue is still showing a healthy uptick.

If we step back and look at the last 5 years, esp. since the 5G launch, we see a continued march towards more revenue and net-adds reversing the trend of the prior years. This is the best set of 3 years the industry has had in 16 years.

T-Mobile stayed number one in marketcap at the end of Q1. It was followed by China Mobile, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T rounding out the top 5.

T-Mobile added almost 2x postpaid net-adds than AT&T and Verizon combined. T-Mobile also dominated postpaid phone net-adds.

T-Mobile cleaned up almost all the major revenue and net-adds categories for the quarter.

Fixed wireless continues to be the bright star for 5G in the US. With almost 8.8M subs, the mobile operators are adding >100%+ of the broadband subs in the US, which means cable operators continue to bleed broadband subs. We are likely to see domination continue in 2024. T-Mobile again added more broadband customers than the rest of the major players combined. AT&T also got into the FWA fray reporting 203k FWA customers.

Cable co broadband net-adds have been completely decimated by FWA in the last two years. It is a case study worthy of Clayton Christensen’s attention. The decline from the highest net-adds to the lowest ever net-adds took just over 3 years.

Mobile is providing some respite to the cable giants as their base passed 15M subs, which is more than Dish and US Cellular combined. Charter and Comcast have become the defacto top 2 of the tier-2 operators though most of the gains have been on the lower end of the market. Charter is a clear number four on sub and revenue counts. Comcast is expected to become number five shortly.

There was consequential movement into 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. The big 3 also continue to invest in the enterprise segment.

US picked up pace on the 5G front and kept its lead with China in percentage penetration. US has also outpaced China in 5G revenue by a good margin. However, China has made significant strides in the 5G enterprise segment, and its deployments are more sophisticated. India has picked up significant pace of its 5G deployment and the data consumption in India remains higher than both US and China. So, the “5G race” is in the eye of beholder, depending on the dimension of comparison, you can find a different winner.

Topics covered in the research update.

  • Q1 2024 US Mobile Market Highlights
  • 2024: State of the industry and looking forward
  • AT&T Connected Devices: End of the reporting era
  • FWA Revenues
  • FWA vs. Cable Broadband – What 2024 looks like?
  • Tier 2 Rankings
  • Spatial Computing is here. What now?
  • 5G Monetization: What West can learn from East?
  • Tug of War: Broadband vs. Mobile
  • 5G Monetization: What can the West learn from the East?
  • Opex: The Silent Killer
  • Global 5G Race Update
  • 5G: Truth, Lies, and Narratives
  • Getting 6G Right
  • What to Expect in the Coming Months?
  • US Wireless Market Q1 2024 Analysis
    • Service Revenues
    • ARPU
    • Subscribers
    • Competition
    • 5G Progress
    • Fixed Wireless Progress
    • Handsets