Telecom & Wireless

Top US Wireless Carriers in 2015 Q4

Researchers at Strategy Analytics have put together a ranking of the top eight U.S. wireless carriers in the fourth quarter of 2015 based on a variety of metrics. Measured by subscribers, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is the largest with more than 140 million subscribers. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) ranked second with 128.64 million, T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) ranked third with 63.82 million and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) ranked fourth with 57.9 million. No other carrier had at least 5 million subscribers.

Based on net additions of postpaid (contract) customers, T-Mobile led with 1.08 million in the quarter, followed by Verizon (713,000), Sprint (368,000) and AT&T (340,000).

In terms of average revenue per user (ARPU), Verizon led the big four with an average of $48.95, while U.S. Cellular led all companies with an ARPU of $55.81. Sprint ($44.10), T-Mobile ($43.30) and AT&T ($38.78) trailed.

Mobile device news source FierceWireless also published additional data compiled by Jackdaw Research. Last year’s fourth quarter marks the first time ever that year-over-year smartphone sales for the quarter declined. The total fell from 42 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 38 million. Sales of postpaid phones topped 30 million in the 2015 fourth quarter but still fell short of the year-ago total.


Wireless carriers’ revenue totals also dropped in the fourth quarter, the first time that has occurred “in recent memory,” according to FierceWireless. For Verizon and AT&T, lower smartphone sales and the transition to installment plan buying is lowering service revenues. T-Mobile’s push to lease phones is succeeding, but it is also having a negative impact on revenues. At Sprint, lack of subscriber growth is weighing on revenues.

More details and charts are available at FierceWireless.