Grading the top 10 U.S. carriers in the fourth quarter of 2010

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The following charts the top 10 U.S. wireless carriers in the fourth quarter of 2010 by subscriber base, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, and includes major metrics--such as churn, ARPU and revenue--of each carrier. The subscriber figures include both retail and wholesale customers.

This list does not include resellers or MVNOs such as TracFone.

And don't forget to see how these figures stack up against first quarter 2009, second quarter 2009, third quarter 2009, fourth quarter 2009, first quarter 2010, second quarter 2010 and third quarter 2010 figures.

(Don't forget to check out our wrap-up of the wireless industry in the fourth quarter, and our special report on the top global handset makers in the fourth quarter.)

As the fourth-quarter reporting season comes to a close, it's time to start parsing the information to see which carriers slipped and which managed to get ahead. Click here for some of the big themes from the quarter.

Top US Wireless Carrier Metrics Q4 2010 (ranking by subscribers, retail + wholesale)
  Carrier Subscribers (millions) Net Adds (millions) Churn
(Avg
Monthly)
Service
Revenue
(US$ millions)
Data %
of Service Revenue
ARPU
1 Verizon Wireless 102.246 1.141 1.34% $14,193 37.1% $50.61
2 AT&T 95.536 2.803 1.32% $13,799 35.7% $48.98
3 Sprint Nextel* 49.650 1.087 2.67% $6,468 n/a $47.87
4 T-Mobile USA 33.734 -0.023 3.60% $4,615 27.5% $46.59
5 MetroPCS 8.155 0.298 3.50% $972 n/a $39.79
6 US Cellular 6.072 -0.031 1.96% $992 n/a $54.37
7 Leap Wireless 5.518 0.107 4.0% $637 n/a $38.14
8 Clearwire*** 4.384 1.542 2.1% $172 100.0% $16.07
9 Cellular South**  n/a          
10 ATN** n/a          
11 Cincinnati Bell 0.509 0.008 3.4% $65 26.6% $42.89
12 Ntelos 0.432 -0.001 3.5% $97 26.3% $51.60
Subscribers include retail and wholesale connections of both traditional and new connected device categories (e.g. M2M).
*Sprint Nextel subscribers and net adds excluding estimated number of affiliate subscribers, but including wholesale; service revenues excluding wholesale and affiliate.
**Cellular South is a private company and does not reveal its metrics, estimated to have c. 900,000 subscribers; ATN results not yet reported (766,600 subscribers at end September 2010).
***Clearwire subscribers and net adds include wholesale subs outside current 4G network coverage area, but from whom Clearwire receives nominal revenue; revenue is total revenue.
Source: Strategy Analytics, based on carrier reports.