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US Wireless Operators' Q2 ScorecardUS Wireless Operators' Q2 Scorecard

Smartphone growth, M2M action and the move to LTE in Q2 dictated the winners and losers for the wireless operators in the US

Sarah Thomas

August 8, 2011

4 Min Read
US Wireless Operators' Q2 Scorecard

Smartphones, the migration to Long Term Evolution (LTE) and growth in machine-to-machine (M2M) connections highlighted the seasonably soft second quarter for the wireless operators in the U.S.

While most of their competitors lost contract customers in the quarter, the big two -- Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) -- continued to get bigger. AT&T sold 3.6 million iPhones in the three months ending in June compared to Verizon iPhone sales of 2.3 million. But Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s device was just one part of the smartphone story. The advanced devices now make up 36 percent of Verizon's subscriber base and 49.9 percent of AT&T's, as well as growing proportions at their smaller competitors. (See OS Watch: AT&T Outsmarts Verizon in Phones.)

One bragging right Verizon does have over AT&T, however, is 4G. The carrier added 1.2 million new LTE subscribers in the quarter before AT&T has even turned up its LTE network. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) also bet on the 4G variation to WiMax, announcing a spectrum hosting deal with LightSquared and causing Sprint WiMax partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) to look at moving to Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) on its own. (See Sprint, LightSquared Strike Agreement and Clearwire Goes It Alone With Faster 4G.)

While 3G and 4G growth brought in the most ARPU [average revenue per user] for the wireless operators, it was actually non-voice-based subscriptions that had the most growth in the second quarter. More non-operator branded M2M subscriptions were added than voice subscribers at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. , representing the next wave of growth in wireless.

Here's a look at how the top eight operators in the U.S. fared on some other key metrics for the second quarter:

Table 1: Tier 1 Wireless Operators Q2 Scorecard

Verizon Wireless




Total Revenue

$27.5 billion

$31.5 billion

$8.3 billion

$5 billion

Total Subscribers

106.3 million

98.6 million

52 million

33.6 million

Postpaid Subscriber Additions

1.3 million


lost 101,000

lost 281,000

Postpaid ARPU





Total Postpaid Churn

0.89 percent


1.75 percent


Source: Operators' Q2 reports

Table 2: Tier 2 Wireless Operators Q2 Scorecard


Leap Wireless

US Cellular


Total Revenue

$1.2 billion

$760.5 million

$1.08 billion

$293.7 million

Total Subscribers

9.1 million

5.7 million

6 million

1.54 million

Post-paid Subscriber Additions

200,000 (pre-paid)

lost 103,140 (pre-paid)

lost 41,000

7.65 million

Post-paid ARPU

$40.49 (pre-paid)

$40.15 (pre-paid)



Total Post-paid Churn

3.9 percent (pre-paid)

4.2 percent (pre-paid)

1.38 percent

3.9 percent (retail); 1.3 percent (wholesale)

Source: Operators' Q2 reports

For more
Check out the rest of our second-quarter earnings coverage below:

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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