By the Numbers: How the US Wireless Carriers did in Q1 2016

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Now that the earnings for Q1 2016 are in the books. Let's take a look at how the carriers fared in the first quarter. Typically this first quarter is a pretty slow one, with very few new smartphones launching, and coming right after the holiday quarter. Verizon had 640,000 postpaid net adds in the quarter. With T-Mobile posting 1.04 million, AT&T with 129,000 and Sprint with 56,000. T-Mobile won that round, adding almost double what Verizon did in the quarter, and far more than AT&T and Sprint. This brings their totals to 107 million for Verizon, 77 million for AT&T, 32 million for T-Mobile and 30 million for Sprint. Keep in mind that these are just postpaid numbers. When prepaid numbers are added in, they are much higher.

In the quarter, T-Mobile posted the lowest ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) at $46.20, with Sprint at $51.70 and AT&T at $59.50. Verizon doesn't report their ARPU, so their numbers are not listed. Postpaid churn continued to be the highest at Sprint, with 1.56%, T-Mobile at 1.33%, AT&T at 1.10% and Verizon having the lowest at 0.96%. For those that may be unaware, churn is the number of customers leaving versus those that are staying. So the lower your churn rate is, the more customers you are actually keeping around.

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Overall numbers (postpaid + prepaid) for the carriers look like this: Verizon has 141 million customers, AT&T with 130 million, T-Mobile with 65.5 million, and Sprint at 58.8 million. T-Mobile and Sprint are still pretty low, compared to Verizon and AT&T, but they are starting to gain traction. These numbers also show that Verizon is the only carrier that doesn't cater too much to the prepaid market. Considering nearly half of the customers at Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T are prepaid customers, compared to around 33 million of Verizon's 141 million customers.

The wireless industry has gotten pretty competitive over the past couple of years, and taking a look at the earnings from the past quarter definitely shows just how competitive and even lop-sided it has become. Just a few years ago, it was AT&T and Verizon adding all of the postpaid customers, now it's T-Mobile taking almost all of the growth in the industry. Definitely a big change in the industry, and it likely won't be going back to the old ways anytime soon.

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