Chetan Sharma: U.S. zooms back to subscriber growth in Q3 after weak Q2

U.S. wireless carriers added 2.4 million net new subscribers in the third quarter after a record-low 139,000 in the second quarter, which was due in large part to Sprint's (NYSE:S) shutdown of its Nextel iDEN network, according to a new report from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

Sharma noted that Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) led the way in the third quarter, with over more than 1 million net new subscriber additions each, closely followed by AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). Sprint though continued to feel the after-effects of the Nextel shutdown.

"In the last couple of quarters, T-Mobile has started to break-away from Sprint in cumulative postpaid net-adds with positive growth," Sharma noted, adding that, "T-Mobile continued to impress after its strong reversal in industry metrics last quarter on the back of a series of marketing and pricing initiatives that seem to be gaining traction and having an impact on its image and fortune."

Sharma said AT&T continued to lead the connected device segment, with 48 percent market share. He also noted that shared data plans from Verizon and AT&T "have been quite successful. The attachment rates have increased tremendously over the course of 2013 with more consumers opting for cellular tablets and connected devices. In fact, at AT&T, tablets are performing 2-3 times better than smartphones in postpaid net-adds."

In terms of data revenue growth, the report found that U.S. mobile data service revenues grew 5 percent from the second quarter and 15 percent from the third quarter of 2012 to reach $22.8 billion. Sharma said the U.S. market is still on track to hit $90 billion in data service revenues in 2013. Data now makes up 48 percent of all U.S. mobile industry service revenues, and is likely to exceed the 50 percent mark in the fourth quarter, Sharma said. Verizon and AT&T continued to dominate in the quarter, accounting for 71 percent of mobile data services revenues and 68 percent of the subscription base.

Additionally, Sharma found that smartphone penetration is now past the 64 percent mark in the U.S. market and smartphones accounted for almost 90 percent of the devices sold in the third quarter. However, he said the 64 percent of the subscriber base that has a smartphone "is concentrated in only 40% of the households, thus leaving plenty of growth in the marketplace."

For more:
- see this Chetan Sharma report

Related Articles:
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Sprint to cover 100M POPs with 2.5 GHz LTE by end of 2014
AT&T's Stephens: LTE network will fend off competition, but feature phone base is shrinking
Verizon's net adds below expectations, T-Mobile could be to blame
Chetan Sharma: Q2 'the lowest net-adds quarter in the U.S. mobile history'
Chetan Sharma: Mobile data to represent 50% of all service revenues by year-end

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