Growth in the US mobile subscriber base remains strong despite penetration levels of above 120%. Declining revenue from voice services is compensated for by high growth in mobile data use, itself supported by upgraded networks supporting LTE-based services. Smartphone penetration is also high, which also encourages mobile data use among subscribers. A number of operators, led by AT&T, have partnered with vendors to trial 5G technologies and services. AT&T aimed to develop commercial services by late 2018, which would make it one of the firs carriers globally to do so. In addition, operators are working on the potential of NB-IoT, LTE-U and LTE-A technologies, in some respects as a precursor to 5G.
A major development in early 2017 was the complex reserve auction for spectrum in the 600MHz band, which raised more than $19 billion. Although network operators must wait for spectrum allocations to be concluded, the additional 70MHz made available will go far to supporting mobile broadband in rural areas, and improving network capacity.
This report provides analyses as well as key statistics and forecasts on the US mobile market, including CTIA data for 2015, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q4 2016 and recent market data from the regulator. It also provides an assessment of telcos’ strategies, regulatory policies, and developments in the deployment of emerging technologies.
AT&T expecting to provide 5G services by late 2018; FCC authorises the use of LTE-U devices in the under-utilised 5GHz band; Sprint’s 5G trials supporting 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) video; AT&T launches national LTE-M service; T-Mobile US secures additional 700MHz blocks for $1.3 billion; Google trials facial recognition m-payment system; FCC considers both low-end and high-end spectrum bands for possible 5G use; FCC proceeds with Citizens Broadband Radio Service, securing an additional 100MHz in the 3.5GHz-3.7GHz bands; Google launches Project Fi MVNO; FCC concludes 600MHz spectrum auction; AT&T closes down 2G infrastructure, reassigns spectrum for LTE; report update includes telcos’ operating and financial data to Q4 2016, recent market developments.
AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Corporation, T-Mobile US, TracFone, MetroPCS Communications, Leap Wireless, Frontline, Alltel, US Cellular; Clearwire.
Number of pages 49
Last updated 22 May 2017
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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