The Numbers Speak: Data Services Equal Profit

This week research firm Strategy Analytics reported out key data on the Top 10 US Wireless Carriers for the Second Quarter of 2013. This highlighted some interesting trends, especially when you compare a number of the reported statistics to those of the same period last year.

Still leading the way in terms of the number of customers is Verizon Wireless. With 118 million subscribers, it is just a little ahead of its nearest rival AT&T, who have around 107 million subscribers. In terms of where both were one year ago, this represents only a 2% increase for AT&T but over a 7% increase for Verizon Wireless.

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The biggest winner appears to have been T-Mobile, albeit via their acquisition of Metro PCS. T-Mobile now has around 44 million customers, compared to 33 million at the same time last year. What’s interesting is that T-Mobile’s ARPU seems to have suffered as a consequence. In 2012 it was around $43, but now sits at around $38, a drop of almost 12%.

But by far the most significant statistic is that around the percent of revenue now attributed to data services. Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T report around 47% of their revenue is attributed to data services. This is an increase of around 10% from the same time last year. Although T-Mobile only reports 41% of its traffic is from data services, this is up from 33% last year, and so represents an increase of almost 25%. This also provides yet further evidence that the focus of nearly all wireless carriers is clearly on data services.

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These numbers aligns with the wireless carriers’ CAPEX or investment spend. Verizon Wireless, AT&TM and T-Mobile are all investing heavily in 4G or LTE, and are now offering their customers high speed data service, coast to coast.

The advantage of being able to understand where new resources must be added to handle the increase in data demand is obvious. And it doesn’t appear that customer demand for data – and speedy data transfer – is going to decrease any time soon.

What are your thoughts about the future of data in the wireless community? Let me know in the comments below.

Written by Graham Kunz – Graham on Twitter | Posts by Graham
Graham is Empirix’s European Service Assurance Expert and he’s worked in the tech industry for nearly twenty years. More than 14 years of that time has been in Service Assurance, working with wireless customers and internal teams to understand and capture product requirements, as well as develop and introduce products. His global outlook, wireless technology knowledge and technical know-how provide him with an excellent perspective on the current and future direction of mobility and the wireless industry.

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