US Mobile Market Update – Q4 2023

US Mobile Market Update – Q4 2023

US Mobile Market Update – Q4 2023

Summary of US Mobile Market Q4 2023

After the peak of 2021 growth, the US wireless market has been cooling off from the historic highs. Despite the slower growth rate, operators had yet another $50B service revenue quarter for the 7th straight time with a new record-breaking quarter.

Net-adds declined by 5%, postpaid by 6%, postpaid phones by 2%, prepaid declined dramatically.

However, 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 reclaimed its title as the most valued service provider in the world. It was followed by China Mobile and Comcast with Verizon and AT&T rounding out the top 5.

AT&T had its 8th straight 5M+ net-adds quarter with Connected devices contributing to the bulk of its growth. T-Mobile added the most postpaid subs and also dominated postpaid phone net-adds.

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

Fixed wireless continues to be the bright star for 5G in the US. With almost 7.8M subs, the mobile operators are adding 95%+ of the broadband subs in the US. We are likely to see domination continue in 2024. T-Mobile again added more broadband customers than the rest of the major players combined.

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 has been quite rapid.

Mobile is providing some respite to the cable giants as their base is approaching 15M subs, which is more than Dish and US Cellular combined. As we have mentioned before, FCC’s gambit to create a fourth player has failed. Instead, Cable cos are providing that competition but mostly on the low end of the market.

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. AT&T also continues 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.

  • Q4 2023 US Mobile Market Highlights
  • 2023 US Mobile Market Highlights
  • 2023: State of the industry and Looking forward
  • AT&T and OpenRAN: What’s Next?
  • US Cellular and Dish: Why FCC got it wrong?
  • FWA decimated Cable Broadband in 2023. What now?
  • Spatial Computing is here. Now what?
  • Tug of War: Broadband vs. Mobile
  • Opex: The Silent Killer
  • 5G: Truth, Lies, and Narratives
  • Getting 6G Right
  • Global 5G Race Update
  • What to Expect in the Coming Months?
  • US Wireless Market Q4 2023 Analysis
    • Service Revenues
    • ARPU
    • Subscribers
    • Competition
    • 5G Progress
    • Fixed Wireless Progress
    • Connected Devices
    • Handsets