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US carrier landscape in Q3: Verizon records biggest ARPU

Posted: , by Victor H.

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US carrier landscape in Q3: Verizon records biggest ARPU
The third quarter of the year brought a lot of new phones and announcements, but it differed from previous years as it lacked a new iPhone, which was to come only in the last quarter. How did this affect US carriers’ results and how did they wrap up the quarter? Strategy Analytics gives a sky-high peek at stats on many big and small carriers stateside.

It all starts with the big four: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Big Red continues to dominate at the top with 107.695 million subcribers followed by AT&T which went over 100 million in the quarter. The two carriers together account for nearly two thirds of the US mobile landscape. One trend that has long started and continues in Q3, is the rise of revenue coming from data services. For Verizon, 40.6% of service revenue came from data, while for AT&T, which is starting to roll out its LTE network the numbers is 39.3%. 

Verizon was also the most expensive carrier in the big four as average revenue per user (ARPU) reached $53.21, while T-Mobile - the most affordable one, with ARPU at $46.22. Outside the big four, it was MetroPCS which ranked as the easiest on the pocket in the US with an average of $40.80 monthly. 

Check out the tables and graphs below to get a better understanding of the carrier standings, but don’t forget to also take a look at our in-depth look at the state of the industry in Q3 revealing the changes happening for the largest phone makers.


US carrier landscape in Q3: Verizon records biggest ARPU
US carrier landscape in Q3: Verizon records biggest ARPU
US carrier landscape in Q3: Verizon records biggest ARPU
US carrier landscape in Q3: Verizon records biggest ARPU

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posted on 14 Nov 2011, 09:50

1. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


holey crap, look how much US Cellular is making per customer. how the heck are they doing that?? lol I guess they have lower intrinsic costs since they dont need national advertising campaigns n such.

Should say "VZW records biggest ARPU of the big 4 carriers" because USC is wiping the floor with everyone.

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 10:14 1

2. hepresearch (unregistered)


Perhaps US Cellular IS paying a price for raking in the dough... they are the only carrier with over 1 million subscribers, in this data, to post a net loss in their customer base. They may be "wiping the floor with everyone" else at the moment, but they won't be for too long if their customer base keeps shrinking.

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 10:20

3. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


they didnt lose a lot, so its not a big bleed. i have no idea what their pricing strategy is though, so they could be pricing themselves out.. or they could have just had a bad quarter. Well, apple has been stagnant in the marketshare department, but that hasn't stopped them from sucking every penny from their customers and making billions.
They made as much as metro with half the customer base. That's impressive in itself.

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 10:33 2

4. hepresearch (unregistered)


True... and for all I know, they may be pricing themselves to stay about the same size... no real ambition to become more than a regional carrier with 5 to 6 million subscribers. After all, I have visited one of their markets in the past, and while my AT&T and T-Mobile phones roamed on "Cell One", which had garbage coverage, pretty much everyone who lived there swore by US Cellular. If you wanted decent coverage on a device, US Cellular was the ONLY way to go in those parts. So, there really wasn't much competition in that particular market, and US Cellular dominated by a land-slide as a result. They shed a lot of the hassle of dealing with wide-area marketing campaigns, dealing with servicing a large customer base, and having to build out and maintain a large home network... thus, they can dominate on their home turf without any problems and charge pretty much whatever they want to (within reason). Keep your service expensive enough to fairly constantly milk all of your customers, but not so expensive that neighboring competitors are tempted (beyond your ability to pay them off...) to make a move into your home markets...

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 10:38

5. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


yup. :)

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 17:46 1

12. hepresearch (unregistered)


The folks who use US Cellular have been, and still are, generally willing to pay the price. Every person I have ever talked to who uses US Cellular swears by them. Even with the high ARPU pointed out, they say it is well worth it.

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 13:43

9. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


ARPU has nothing to do with costs

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 20:49

13. ardent1 (Posts: 1991; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


ARPU means average revenue per unit. It's a revenue metric, and speaks nothing to costs.

Also, Verizon has high ARPU because they tend to nickel an dime their customers to death. I have Verizon for my mobile broadband, and I would love to leave them for their penny pinching behavior, but I can't leave because they have the best 4G network in the US.

posted on 15 Nov 2011, 06:28

14. Gemmol (Posts: 495; Member since: 09 Nov 2011)


Not really AT&T with LTE and HSPA+ for back up, I live in NY and I do not get same problems as others I was on a conference call last night with 5 people while still surfing, and this is only HSPA+, can not wait for LTE device with 1080p screen then I will give up my dual core, I just can not see myself buy dual core after dual core even if it was the Nexus and I get updates faster

posted on 15 Nov 2011, 09:22

16. hepresearch (unregistered)


AT&T's LTE and HSPA+ have almost no backhaul support compared to Verizon's LTE...

First of all, 4G has such small coverage as yet that I really don't care about 4G. Second, 3G was such an improvement to me that I don't care to have my emails and browsing any faster than I get them now. Third, I do not want to pay Verizon's price, nor endure the limits that either Verizon or AT&T impose when they essentially ration data usage. Fourth, I use a home PC on a cable broadband connection for most of my web activities, and really don't need my phone to go on the internet... so, for my purposes, Verizon and AT&T deliver equally well in my area, and since AT&T is cheaper I go with that and have no complaints. IF I ever really needed the fastest and most reliable broadband on-the-go, I would have no choice but to reluctantly fork out the extra money to Verizon.

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 12:38 1

6. bolaG (Posts: 468; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)


U.S. Cellular has made the shift to be a primium player; they will roll out LTE and they already have superb coverage in the areas they market their service. Plus they're the best in a customer service stand point.

Check out their belief plans its a pretty cool system.

I work for them and have worked for other companies in the past...they're the best customer service wise.

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 13:29 1

8. jc1201 (Posts: 1; Member since: 14 Nov 2011)


I have worked for Verizon and Cricket. I can assure you that Verizon is the leader when it comes to customer service. I had their service before i started working for them and never have had a single problem. My reception is good anywhere i go.

The difference with US Cellular is that they dont cover people, they cover areas. And in the midwest, there is a whole lot of areas but not people. Companies within the big four will always prefer covering areas with 100 people rather than a small town with 75 people population.

As far as LTE. MetroPCS has LTE, Cricket will be rolling out LTE pretty much every carrier is going to be mocking Verizon on everything they do. Otherwise they can;t compete. Verizon is the most expensive but they keep their customers happy with innovative devices and great customer care otherwise they wouldnt have 107 milion customers. Its that easy.

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 14:16 3

10. bolaG (Posts: 468; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)


I'm just speaking of facts. We win awards for our customer service year in and year out. Look U.S. cellular up in consumer reports...

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 17:42 1

11. hepresearch (unregistered)


Consumer Reports... word.

posted on 15 Nov 2011, 06:35

15. ILikeBubbles (Posts: 301; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


i think one of you is talking customer service, and the other is talking cellular service >.>

posted on 14 Nov 2011, 13:18 2

7. Mr.Mr.Upgrade (Posts: 425; Member since: 30 Aug 2011)


Verizon all day

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