Grading the top 10 U.S. carriers in the fourth quarter of 2012

The following charts the top U.S. wireless carriers in the fourth quarter of 2012 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. (To see how TracFone did in the fourth quarter, click here.)

And don't forget to see how these figures stack up against the fourth quarter of 2010, the first quarter of 2011, the second quarter of 2011, the third quarter of 2011, the fourth quarter of 2011, the first quarter of 2012, the second quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2012.

(And you also might want to check out our wrap-up of the wireless industry in the fourth quarter of 2012 as well as ABI's rankings of the top 12 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 commentary on the figures.


Top US Wireless Carrier Metrics Q4 2012 (ranking by subscribers, retail + wholesale)

  Carrier Subscribers (millions) Net Adds (millions) Churn
(Avg Monthly)
Data % of Service Revenue ARPU
1 Verizon Wireless* 115.780 2.442 1.21% 45.7% $54.21
2 AT&T 106.957 1.094 1.42% 45.2% $46.94
3 Sprint Nextel** 55.306 -0.342 2.55% n/a $50.02
4 T-Mobile USA 33.388 0.061 3.70% 35.6% $41.31
5 Clearwire*** 9.581 -0.908 6.99% 100.0% $10.33
6 MetroPCS 8.887 -0.093 3.58% n/a $40.86
7 US Cellular 5.798 -0.010 2.14% n/a $58.00
8 Leap Wireless 5.297 -0.337 4.60% n/a $42.73
9 C Spire**** n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
10 ATN 0.588 0.002 3.84% n/a $46.79
11 Ntelos 0.440 0.009 2.83% 39.8% $52.78
12 Cincinnati Bell 0.398 -0.018 4.17% 37.0% $43.15
Subscribers include retail and wholesale connections of both traditional and new connected device categories (e.g. M2M)
*Verizon Wireless subscribers include Strategy Analtyics' estimates for wholesale and connected device volumes
**Sprint Nextel subscribers and net adds excluding estimated number of affiliate subscribers, but including wholesale; service revenues excluding wholesale and affiliate
***Clearwire subscribers and net adds include wholesale subs outside current 4G network coverage area, but from whom Clearwire receives nominal revenue. 
****C-Spire is a private company and does not reveal its metrics, estimated to have c. 1.0 million subscribers
Source: Strategy Analytics, based on carrier reports


Grading the top 10 U.S. carriers in the fourth quarter of 2012