US Wireless Q4 2016: T-Mobile Leads in Adds, Verizon Stays #1

Now that all of the carriers have posted their results for the fourth quarter of 2016, it's now time to take a look at how the top carriers faired in the final quarter of the year. As you might expect, Verizon is still the largest carrier, of course, that's due to the fact that they are still twice as large as T-Mobile, and do have a good 11 million lead on AT&T. T-Mobile did post the most net adds in the quarter, coming in at just over 2 million. Surprisingly, the four national carriers actually all added customers, with three of them being over a million.

When it comes to total subscribers, Verizon has 145.7 million, AT&T has 134.8 million, T-Mobile with 71.4 million and Sprint with 58.5 million. Just for fun, let's take a look at a few of the regional carriers out there. US Cellular has just over 5 million customers, C Spire doesn't release their numbers, and Shentel has around 900,000 customers, after losing around 36,000 in the quarter. For net adds, T-Mobile was at the top with 2.1 million, followed by Verizon at 1.8 million, AT&T with 1.5 million and Sprint with around 613,000 adds for the quarter. Some of the more telling numbers are the Postpaid smartphone Net Adds, which are fairly small when compared to Net Adds for Verizon and AT&T. While T-Mobile's postpaid smartphone net adds was around half of their net adds for the quarter.

ARPU or Average Revenue Per User, is a bit different than many might have thought. Verizon actually doesn't have the highest ARPU, despite bringing in the most service revenue. T-Mobile has the smallest ARPU at $43.14, followed by Sprint with $43.49, Verizon at $45.54 and AT&T at $51.12. You'll notice that ARPU is pretty close among these carriers - besides AT&T - and that's due to the increased competition that has been seen in the US wireless industry in the past few years. Carriers are needing to reduce prices and offer more, in order to keep their customers. And it's something that's only going to continue.

So Verizon is still at the top, with AT&T at number two, followed by T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular, T-Mobile has begun to close the gap, and they are taking a whole bunch of smartphone users too. In the next few years, the gap between the top four carriers might be a lot smaller than it currently is.

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