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Verizon takes commanding lead in 5G phone sales: report

Verizon accounts for roughly 54% of the 4.1 million 5G phones sold in the US market so far, according to new data from M Science.

The company, a division of Wall Street banking giant Jefferies, derives its figures from its point-of-sale database that comprises roughly 10,000 independently owned wireless retail stores.

The figures from M Science show that Verizon is the biggest seller of 5G phones in the US, ahead of rivals including AT&T and T-Mobile. Click here for a larger version of this image. (Source: M Science)
The figures from M Science show that Verizon is the biggest seller of 5G phones in the US, ahead of rivals including AT&T and T-Mobile. Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: M Science)

The firm reported that, as of the middle of July, Verizon had sold a total of roughly 2.2 million 5G phones since first introducing the service. AT&T came in second with 629,000 5G phones, T-Mobile was third with 501,000 and Sprint was fourth with 483,000. It's worth noting that T-Mobile closed its acquisition of Sprint in April, and has said that more than 85% of Sprint's postpaid customers have handsets that are compatible with its network.

Verizon's lead in 5G phone sales can be attributed to a few factors. First, it has been selling commercial 5G phones since the middle of last year, longer than AT&T or T-Mobile. And Verizon is the largest cellular provider in the US with around 150 million customers.

That said, all three operators have made a concerted effort around selling 5G phones, having dumped millions of dollars into advertising campaigns around the devices.

All of the nation's operators received a major boost to their 5G phone sales via the release of the Samsung Galaxy S20 in late February. Samsung is second only to Apple in terms of US smartphone market share, according to figures from Counterpoint, and its Galaxy S20 supports most 5G spectrum bands. Many believe a 5G iPhone from Apple will similarly goose operators' 5G phone sales when it is released later this year, as is widely expected.

Finally, the data from M Science provides a firm figure – 4.082 million as of the middle of July – for the total number of 5G phone customers in the US. No major US operator has yet reported any major customer metrics around its 5G efforts; after all, few are bothering to charge extra for the service.

With around 4 million 5G phone owners, the US sits slightly behind South Korea. According to recent numbers from the country's telecoms regulator, there are around 7 million people in South Korea with 5G phones. But in terms of percentages, South Korea is far ahead of the US with around 13% of the population owning 5G phones. In the US that number is around 1.2%.

China, meantime, reportedly counts 66 million 5G subscribers, or around 4.7% of that country's population.

Finally, phone sales around the world slowed during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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