25 Awesome Charts On The State Of The Wireless Industry

brick cell phone

The Federal Communications Commission just released its latest massive report on the state of the U.S. wireless industry. (All 308 pages available here.)

The basic story: Smartphone penetration is getting huge, teens are texting up a storm, voice usage is going down, and data revenue — while growing — isn’t making up for the decline in voice revenue.

As FBR Capital Markets analysts David Dixon and Dutch Fox note today, it’s the first time the FCC did NOT conclude that the wireless industry is “competitive,” despite no material changes in the industry over the past year.

The analysts’ conclusion: The FCC may put restrictions on Verizon and AT&T during the next spectrum auction to slow their dominance, giving Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile a boost.

The average price for smartphones has fallen by 50% in 3 years

Apple's iPhone market share has been limited by its one-carrier (AT&T) exclusivity

Smartphones approaching half of all handsets sold, already 50% of handset upgrades

Minutes of voice use per subscriber: T-Mobile and Sprint subs talk on their phones a lot more than AT&T subs

Verizon spending a lot more than the others on capex, which suggests its reputation for having a superior network

U.S. smartphone penetration has doubled in two years

Churn: T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers the least loyal, Verizon subs still the most loyal

Prepaid (red) growing faster than postpaid/contract (blue) but postpaid still much bigger

Mobile data penetration passed 60% last year

Profit margins: Verizon the highest

iPhone uses 5X more data per month as BlackBerry

AT&T launching more smartphones than other carriers

Voice ARPU (average monthly revenue per subscriber) shrinking, text and data growing but not completely making up for the voice declines

Spectrum is crucial for wireless and Clearwire has a TON

Text messaging explodes but reaching maturity

All 3G paths lead to LTE for 4G. WiMax (Clearwire) stands alone.

Teens are texting up a storm. Kids, too, recently.

4G still a sliver of 3G deployment

AT&T and Verizon still growing the fastest; super-cheap upstarts MetroPCS and Leap providing some disruption

Wireless subscribers by type

People who live in rural areas have fewer options for wireless subscribers than the average population

18-to-24 has highest wireless penetration by age group

Wireless-only households on the rise

T-Mobile's lack of a 3G network (due to spectrum shortage) really held back its data revenue growth trajectory

Family plan penetration is huge. This is one reason why it's such a pain to switch providers: You have to switch everyone at once.

BONUS MAP: Wireless penetration by area

BONUS MAP: Wireless coverage by number of providers (darker = more providers)

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