US mobile market sees rising data use

The US mobile data market generated third quarter services revenues of USUS$8.8 billion, according to a new report from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

Mobile data revenues in the US increased 7.3% quarter-over-quarter and 37.5% year-over-year during the first nine months of 2008. It has already racked up revenues of USUS$24.5 billion this year so far, equal to the total revenue in 2007.

Messaging volume increased 38% during Q3, with messaging revenues growing 6%. Messaging volume in the US now averages over 105 billion messages per month, a frequency of one message per subscriber every two hours -  users in the Philippines, long seen as the world's biggest SMS fans, average one message every hour.

In all, total ARPU fell 4 cents, with average data ARPU growing by 90 cents or 8%, almost negating the 94 cent drop in voice ARPU.

Verizon Wireless leads in data ARPU with US$13.58 (or 26.03% of its revenues, becoming the first US operator to cross the 25% threshold). Sprint follows with US$13.50 (24.11%), trailed by AT&T at US$12.29 (24.20%) and T-Mobile USA at US$9 (18%).

Verizon Wireless and AT&T now account for 62% of the total market data services revenues, with 74% of Verizon subscribers using some form of data services. Verizon ranks third among global mobile operators in terms of data revenues, with AT&T coming in fourth. Sprint is sixth overall and T-Mobile USA has moved up to ninth.