US Wireless Operators' Q2 2012 Scorecard

Weak subscriber growth was balanced out by high profits in Q2 as operators shook up their pricing and made the move to LTE

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

August 13, 2012

4 Min Read
US Wireless Operators' Q2 2012 Scorecard

The seasonably soft second quarter has come to a close with all the major U.S. wireless operators having reported their earnings -- with varying levels of success.

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett dubbed the second quarter, "Goldilocks Wireless," which he defines as "a period of just-right slow growth and above average profitability."

Broken down, it means that -- in general -- weak subscriber growth metrics plus strong revenue per user metrics plus low churn rates and subsidies and stellar profitability metrics average out to a just right quarter. Overall, traditional post paid subscribers actually declined in the second quarter, and even prepaid subscribers slowed, but higher average revenue per user (ARPU) helped keep margins in check.

For Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), the quarter was defined by growth in Long Term Evolution (LTE) and prepping for new pricing plans. For Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. , it was marked by trying to retain customers in the wait for LTE and eking out more revenue from each in the meantime. (See Verizon: One Data Bucket to Rule Them All and AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool.)

The smaller players, MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS), Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), U.S. Cellular Corp. (NYSE: USM) and Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) felt the squeeze more as they transitioned to LTE and duked it out on price.

Check out the charts below for a look at some of the U.S. operators' key metrics and how they compared in the second quarter.

Table 1: Tier 1 Wireless Operators Q2 Scorecard

Verizon Wireless

AT&T Wireless



Wireless Revenue

$18.6 billion

$16.4 billion

$7.3 billion

$4.4 billion

Total Subscribers

94.2 million

105.2 million

56 million

33.1 million

Subscriber Additions

1.2 million

1.3 million


lost 205,000

Postpaid ARPU





Postpaid Churn








Does not report


Table 2: Tier 2 Wireless Operators Q2 Scorecard


Leap Wireless

US Cellular


Total Revenue

$1.3 billion

$786.8 million

$1.1 billion

$316.9 million

Total Subscribers

9.3 million

5.9 million

5.8 million

11 million

Subscriber Additions

lost 186,000

lost 289,270

lost 28,000

lost 42,000











For more Q2 coverage

  • T-Mobile Looks Ahead as It Bleeds Customers

  • Leap Wireless Promises Results After Weak Q2

  • MetroPCS: LTE Will Bring Subscribers Back

  • Sprint LTE: First, We Take Manhattan (Kansas)

  • Sprint Hunkers Down for Network Vision

  • Verizon: Shared Data Won't Shake User Revenue

  • Verizon CFO Is a Tease on iPhone Timing

  • Verizon Reports $1.83B Profit for Q2

  • AT&T's 4G Capex Gets Dense

  • AT&T Sells 5.1M Smartphones in Q2

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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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