US Mobile Market Update – Q3 2015


The US mobile data market grew by 3% QoQ and 14% YoY. The overall services revenue declined again by 2%. The device revenue increased by 26% which helped the overall revenue to grow by 3%.

Of the top 5 mobile operators in the world by revenues, US occupies three spots. And mobile data is the key reason why. Mobile data has powered the industry growth over the last decade and it continues to enable operators to differentiate themselves. The most recent twist in the industry skirmishes was T-Mobile’s Binge-On offering to make video streams free. Given that 60% of the traffic on their network is video, that’s substantial free traffic. FCC gave its blessing to the strategy encouraging others to tinker at the edges.

The strategies for operators is revealed in their financials. Verizon and AT&T have optimized their business on margins while T-Mobile and Sprint on net-adds. In 2015 so far, Verizon and AT&T have earned roughly $17/subscription/month while T-Mobile and Sprint have collectively lost $0.39 on every subscription/month.

All four operators maintained their historic low churn rates and are running much tighter operations now. Net income improved 12% YoY.

After seeing steep declines in 2014, the mobile data pricing has stayed pretty stable in 2015 with no major declines or changes. The emphasis of unlimited is paving way for shared data plans and the data buckets per account keep on inching up. In fact, many low-to-mid tiers have seen a price increase. Some of the upper enterprise tiers have seen the prices double in 2015.

Smartphone penetration increased to 81% and roughly 97% of the devices sold now are smartphones. The smartphone penetration amongst postpaid users is now 87%.

The iPhone again dominated with 80% of the smartphone profits. The Android profits declined by 22% QoQ, the smartphone business remains a challenge for a number of Android OEMs.

4th wave services continue to grow at a very past face around the globe. IoT as a category is also making steady progress with a number of players reporting multi-million dollar revenue quarters. There are at least 8 companies making a billion dollars or more in revenues from IoT.


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 Feb 2016.

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