Analyst says that both Verizon and AT&T had 34% of the U.S. cell market in Q1 2014

Analyst says that both Verizon and AT&T had 34% of the U.S. cell market in Q1 2014
Analyst Chetan Sharma says that both Verizon and AT&T owned 34% of the U.S. cellular market in the first quarter of the year. While Verizon has been the number one carrier in the U.S. for some time, AT&T's purchase of Leap Wireless brought with it a number of Cricket subscribers, that helped it close the gap with Verizon. Sprint is a distant third with 16% of the stateside smartphone market, while T-Mobile is fourth with 14%.

Sharma has AT&T tied with Verizon because he includes AT&T's MVNOs and machine to machine hookups. As a result, the analyst says that in Q1 AT&T had 116 million subscribers. Verizon, which only reports business and consumer retail subscribers, had 103 million such accounts. If you compared apples with apples (no pun intended), and looked only at AT&T's business and consumer retail subscribers, that figure would have been 85.1 million. On that basis, Verizon would retain its position at the top.

Sprint has been trying to calm regulators opposed to a possible Sprint purchase of T-Mobile, by saying that such a combination is the only way to challenge the duopoly at the top. Based on  Sharma's stats, a merged Sprint/T-Mobile would have 30% of the U.S. market. That could make a combined firm a formidable challenger to Verizon and AT&T.

According to Sharma, 2014 will be the year that the U.S. becomes the first country to bill over $100 billion in mobile data services. He adds that T-Mobile continues to show strong momentum, accounting for a whopping 66% of the major U.S. carriers' net new customers in the first quarter. And with 93% of all new phones purchased in the first three months of the year being the intelligent kind, smartphone penetration is now 68% in the U.S.


source: ChetanSharma, GigaOM via Engadget

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30 Comments

1. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Thats cool and all but AT&T the best

3. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

AT&T is much better than Verizon for sure...

18. belovedson

Posts: 1060; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

Try saying that in Homboldt county or redding area or just anywhere northern Cali to middle of Oregon

20. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

They are decent here...not great

21. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

AT&T is better until you go inside a masonry building, and/or rural areas. Also, AT&T voice quality is not a good and clear. Yes, I still use a phone as a phone.

2. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

T-Mobile is obviously closing in on Sprint and will soon surpass it...

6. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

While S lost subscribers last year, all other major ones gained customers, with TMUS gaining more than any other carrier.

4. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Since ATT is not a formidable challenger of VZW and is quite comfortable tracking the latter closely as the other accomplice in the crime of duopoly, there is absolutely no guarantee that a merger of S and TMO result in something other than another accomplice in a triopoly. Then again, such a thing as a duopoly or a triopoly is also known as cartel. Why further the cartelization of the mobile market even more by allowing a laggard company merge with an innovative company? Let the Son set and may TMO Legere on.

8. joe1blue

Posts: 169; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

Well said.

9. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Doupolies and triopolies are not nearly as much of a problem as monopolies. I like your comment though...

12. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Except when the the du & triopolies are complicit. Notice how Verizon & AT&T's prices and policies are nearly the same. And when one does something, the other follows suit. That's one of the biggest problems with these carriers, no competition. Either Verizon or AT&T could try to undercut the other, but they don't. They keep it nearly identical. Verizon has better coverage for the most part, AT&T has better data speeds and access to devices. And while T-Mobile did certainly shake things up, it's smaller coverage footprint keeps them from being a genuine contender. And Sprint is....there too.

14. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

I like your comment and it makes a lot of sense. However, I thought that AT&T was a little cheaper than Verizon, or am I mistaken? I still see how that duopoly is a problem though...

24. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Yeah a little cheaper, but when I last looked, Verizon was charging like $30 for 2GB of data, while AT&T was charging around $25 for 1GB of data, or something like that. I remember thinking AT&T was cheaper, but you didn't get as much. But what I meant by cheaper was like $10 less for the same thing. When was the last time we saw a price war between the big 2 carriers? It's usually like a week long sale, not an ongoing one that actually drives prices down. And the worst part is that LTE is cheaper to run according to experts, yet they charge more because they can tell the average consumer it's more advanced. And in most people's minds, more advanced means higher costs. I'd bet real money that when VoLTE/LTE Advanced is rolled out and 3G is dropped the costs will not go down but actually increase. And now that they're getting everyone accustomed to smart phones, it'll be less likely that people will drop them, especially if there are no basic phones to be had. To me carriers are like drug dealers, the first one's free, they get you hooked, then charge whatever they want.

28. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Great comment. Very true...

10. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Which is why the federales aren't having any of the bullish*t that Son-boy is trying to feed them. A Sprint + T-Mo merger ain't gonna happen. Son-boy has seen the erosion of Sprint's market share and he is panicking over the very real possibility (likelihood?) that Sprint will become the nation's 4th largest carrier.

15. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Son just wants to save his crumbling company, but he will fail and Sprint will fade away behind T-Mobile...

29. Joshua9007

Posts: 94; Member since: Jun 08, 2012

I wouldn't count sprint out, mainly because they still have more coverage than t-mobile. T-mobile is a metro area ONLY carrier, with some states like Florida covered well but defiantly the smallest in terms of Sq. Mi. covered by their network. They already had a decent network with their HSPA+ with sufficient backhaul in place... so when At&t was forced to pay a 3 BILLION dollar break up fee and give them useful adjacent spectrum to their own holdings... they were able to roll out LTE to their network very quickly. Sprint on the other hand was reeling from a botched merger with nextel where they had to write down all 35 BILLION dollars of the deal before they could even get FCC clearance to use the spectrum gained (which is now starting) and so partnered with clearwire to launch a 4G network... which also got botched. They now have a clear plan (which they hopefully won't botch), they own clearwire and can deploy on that high frequency spectrum for capacity and then finally use the nextel spectrum for better wide area coverage. T-mobile if it does not merge with sprint (which I believe is still 50/50 chance given other recent mergers) I predict them to slow their growth in the upcoming years, not to say that they won't grow, just not as stellar. This is because people will realize that "no contract" only applies if you buy your phone outright for $$$, and that a 2yr payment plan is essentially the same thing; they will also realize that the claim of (whatever percentage) of Americans covered is only for voice calls and includes roaming coverage to get that number; and finally once you get a family plan on any of these carriers... the prices are very similar, its just small advantages each have with coverage/speed/or data limits that separate them! If you live in the cities, you have choices, outside them sprint has a little more coverage but not great (yet) and At&t is next, with verizon taking the crown... but its always what is best for each individual.

5. fsalto98

Posts: 31; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

Why is AT&T the best? Doesn't Verizon cover over 96% of Americans

7. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Because what 96% of Americans need is for each one and each one's hometown to be covered and efficiently, not one's and everyone else's laggardly.

13. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I'd take inefficient coverage over no coverage. While each carrier is better in some areas than the other, when there's only one choice, it's pretty much the easy choice. We have at&t here, but it's very spotty, a lot of dropouts. Whereas Verizon is the opposite, it's fairly hard to drop a call with them here. Hopefully at&t will up their coverage here.

17. Sprissy

Posts: 193; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

Verizon has always had the best coverage here but before I switched to At&t 3 months ago, I would have 5 bars and get dropped calls continuously....after Verizon's investigation they determined it wasn't my phone but their service, so off to At&t I went. Now I have only 2 or 3 bars but never any dropped calls and I saved money on my monthly bill too...sweet for me. I don't know what has changed with Verizon, I am guessing that their towers are just getting overloaded, which is basically what they told me when I switched.

25. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Our problem is we're right on the edge of Verizon service (like 20 miles to the nearest tower) so we're on the fringe. We need network extenders for in house calls due to steel siding. But outside we're still okay. Our nearest AT&T tower is around 15 miles away, with a huge hill right in the way, and the second closest is around 25-30 miles away. It's peaceful out here but it sucks for cell service. If either carrier put one more tower right between their others they'd have everyone covered strongly. But since it's a farming area I doubt that'll happen. We're not as densely populated as they are in the cities.

11. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

In china the government is the largest mobile provider and the cell service is actually pretty good and cheap (compare to US very cheap). America should just do the samething already. China might be spying their country's mobile services but at least everyone knows. NSA is basically spying on all of us and we do the american thing and protest but its still there fully in operation. My experience with phone carrier so far is horrible. Verzion has good cell service but is expensive and their cell phone lineup is weak (no sim card means no international). T mobile has really good price but their cell signals are weak (not to mention their so called "unlimited data" plan is a joke), Literally their were times where I got zero signal and everyone around me has full bars. American government should just buy all the phone companies save us some money on phone service and some tax money on the NSA funding.

30. Joshua9007

Posts: 94; Member since: Jun 08, 2012

Remember in china most people live in the cities, and with over a BILLION people, they have more people supporting the cost structure... making it cheaper/user. Now, I personally would not want our government controlling any business, governments are never good for business and ours is especially incompetent financially!

16. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

After t-mobile is done upgrading all their towers to LTE and integrating 700mhz they will finally be in the big 3.

22. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

I do expect TMUS to do much better improving its network, which will yield fruits, like better service and new customers, in the near future. As for the present, some nose-pinching is required here and there.

26. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

And that's fine for the metros and surrounding areas, but our closest T-Mobile branded tower is around 200 miles away. They can roam here on AT&It's network, but you can't get service with T-Mobile if you live in a roaming area. Believe me I've tried. Same deal for us with Sprint, though I'm not as broken up about that.

19. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

What is amazing about this, is that all four carriers cover 80% percent of the American population without ever having to roam on other networks. The problem is, most Americans feel they need more than they actually do. The industry has succeeded in marketing coverage as the only important factor in choosing a carrier. VZW and AT&T cover almost the entire country so people feel that these are the only carriers worthy even if the person never steps foot of native territory. VZW and AT&T make billions off people that never use the network to its full coverage points. Probably half of each of the largest two carriers would find T-Mobile or Sprint to meet their coverage needs if they shopped correctly. Example: I have friends that are subscrbers of either VZW or AT&T that very rarely leave city territory. It's overkill and more money than needed to spend. John B.

23. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

But that's been a trait of American life since after WWII, more car, more house, more education, more planning, more etc, than one actually needs.

27. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I'd be all for the ones that can going to other carriers. It would lighten the load on the network and maybe make them more hungry for customers, ie push the prices down. Believe me if T-Mobile were in our area I'd be looking hard at switching to them.

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