Grading the top 8 U.S. wireless carriers in the third quarter of 2014

The following charts the top eight U.S. wireless carriers in the third quarter of 2014 by subscriber base, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. This 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 third 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, the third quarter of 2012, the fourth quarter of 2012, the first quarter of 2013,  the second quarter of 2013, the third quarter of 2013, the fourth quarter of 2013, the first quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2014.

(And you also might want to check out our wrap-up of the wireless industry in the third quarter of 2014.)

This list is significantly shorter than it used to be because of the dramatic reduction in the number of major wireless operators in the U.S. During the second quarter of last year, T-Mobile assumed control of MetroPCS and Sprint assumed control of Clearwire, and AT&T closed its acquisition of Leap Wireless earlier this year. Also, Cincinnati Bell announced earlier this year its intention to get out of the wireless business.

As the third-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.


Top US Wireless Carrier Metrics Q3 2014 (ranking by subscribers, retail + wholesale)
  Carrier Subscribers (millions) Net Adds (millions) Churn (Avg Monthly) Data % of Service Revenue ARPU
1 Verizon Wireless* 125.286 1.755 1.28% 51.5% $55.52
2 AT&T 118.650 2.007 1.36% 51.5% $43.71
3 Sprint** 54.747 0.484 2.75% n/a $49.28
4 T-Mobile US 52.890 2.345 2.83% 53.0% $44.32
5 US Cellular 4.674 0.021 2.19% n/a $60.92
6 C Spire*** n/a        
7 Ntelos 0.457 -0.001 3.08% 47.6% $52.83
8 Cincinnati Bell 0.177 -0.100 15.42% 41.6% $43.53
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 subscribers and net adds excluding estimated number of affiliate subscribers, but including wholesale; service revenues excluding wholesale and affiliate
***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 8 U.S. wireless carriers in the third quarter of 2014