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Mobile Network Providers - US - March 2015

“The majority of consumers are satisfied with their cellular services, and satisfaction is fairly high across a number of service elements. This places a large amount of pricing pressure on mobile network providers. However, consumers still expect value for their money, and most are not loyal to their carriers, thus presenting opportunities for providers that find the correct balance of cost and service quality.”
– Bryant Harland, Technology and Media Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • Consumers’ satisfaction with existing cellular service
  • Consumers’ most desired improvements for cellular services
  • Loyalty to carriers and path-to-purchase considerations

The market has historically benefited from significant increases in smartphone ownership and parallel growth in data plans. However, increased price competitiveness has placed pressure on the industry and created barriers to continued revenue growth.

This report provides guidance for mobile network providers and advertisers by identifying consumer spending habits and opinions regarding mobile services. Other topics in this report include consumer satisfaction with existing cellular service, desired improvements for mobile services, consumer opinions regarding path-to-purchase, and the types of cell phone plans consumers subscribe to.

Mintel defines the mobile network provider market to include payments to telecommunications carriers for wireless service. Mobile voice and data communication among adults aged 18+ is the focus of the report.

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Consumer qualitative research
                • Abbreviations and terms
                  • Abbreviations
                    • Terms
                    • Executive Summary

                        • The market
                          • Figure 1: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of mobile network providers, at current prices, 2009-19
                        • Key players
                          • Figure 2: Mobile network providers subscribed to, December 2014
                        • The consumer
                          • The majority of cell phone owners are happy with their service
                            • Figure 3: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, December 2014
                          • Consumers desire data, faster speeds, cell phone upgrades
                            • Figure 4: Desired improvements for cellular service, December 2014
                          • Some 16% of cell phone owners plan to switch providers in the next year
                            • Figure 5: Cellular service selection process, December 2014
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                              • Consumers’ satisfaction with existing cellular service
                                • The issues
                                  • The implications
                                    • Consumers’ most desired improvements for cellular services
                                      • The issues
                                        • The implications
                                          • Loyalty to carriers and path-to-purchase considerations
                                            • The issues
                                              • The implications
                                              • Trend Application

                                                  • Trend: Prove It
                                                    • Trend: Make It Mine
                                                      • Trend: Let’s Make a Deal
                                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Historical growth driven by rise in smartphones
                                                            • Connected devices – Opportunities for mobile networks on the horizon
                                                              • Sales and forecast of market
                                                                • Figure 6: Total US revenues and forecast of mobile network providers, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                                • Figure 7: Total US revenues and forecast of mobile network providers, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Fan chart forecast
                                                                  • Figure 8: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of mobile network providers, at current prices, 2009-19
                                                              • Market Drivers

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Wi-Fi may soon be everywhere
                                                                  • Leading Companies

                                                                    • Key points
                                                                      • Nationwide carriers’ network coverage and earnings per subscriber
                                                                        • Figure 9: Network coverage among nationwide providers, January 2014
                                                                      • The backbone of M2M infrastructure
                                                                      • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                        • Improving mobile network infrastructure
                                                                          • Wi-Fi-reliant mobile services to launch in 2015
                                                                          • Marketing Strategies

                                                                            • Overview of the brand landscape
                                                                              • Sprint targets Verizon and AT&T customers with lower-cost service
                                                                                • Figure 10: Sprint email ad, February 2015
                                                                              • Mobile service brands battle over perceptions of network quality
                                                                              • Mobile Network Providers Subscribed to

                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                  • More than half of cell phone owners subscribe to AT&T or Verizon
                                                                                    • Figure 11: Mobile network providers subscribed to, by age, December 2014
                                                                                  • T-Mobile shows heightened urban usage
                                                                                    • Figure 12: Mobile network providers subscribed to, by area, December 2014
                                                                                  • Consumers stay with carriers for an average of three years
                                                                                    • Figure 13: Length of time with current service provider, February 2011-September 2014
                                                                                • Types of Cell Phone Plans

                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                    • The majority of cell phone owners report being on contract plans
                                                                                        • Figure 14: Types of cell phone plans, December 2014
                                                                                        • Figure 15: Confusion surrounding cell phone plans, January 2014 – September 2014
                                                                                      • Pay-as-you-go leads no-contract plans
                                                                                        • Figure 16: Types of cell phone plans – No-contract, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                      • One-in-five data plan users report having unlimited data
                                                                                        • Figure 17: Types of cell phone plans, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                    • Amount Paid for Cellular Service

                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                        • One in five cell phone owners pay more than $150 for cellular service
                                                                                          • Figure 18: Amount paid for cellular service, December 2014
                                                                                        • Average spending on cellular service
                                                                                          • Figure 19: Amount paid for cellular service, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                        • Historical monthly spending flat
                                                                                          • Figure 20: Amount paid for cellular, January 2011-September 2014
                                                                                      • Satisfaction with Current Service

                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                          • Consumers report high levels of satisfaction with cellular service
                                                                                            • Figure 21: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                          • Sprint customers show somewhat lower satisfaction than other carriers
                                                                                            • Figure 22: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by primary service provider, December 2014
                                                                                          • Carriers could do more for suburban and rural consumers
                                                                                            • Figure 23: Satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by area, December 2014
                                                                                          • Family plan subscribers less satisfied with price
                                                                                            • Figure 24: Satisfaction with existing service, by type of cell phone plan (contract), December 2014
                                                                                            • Figure 25: Satisfaction with existing service, by type of cell phone plan (no-contract), December 2014
                                                                                        • Consumer Opinions on Path-to-Purchase

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Consumers’ loyalty and trust in cellular service brands
                                                                                                • Figure 26: Cellular service selection process, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                              • Cellular data and consumers’ budgets
                                                                                                  • Figure 27: Cellular service selection process, by household size, December 2014
                                                                                              • Desired Improvements for Cellular Service

                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                  • Consumers’ most desired improvements: unlimited data, faster mobile internet
                                                                                                    • Figure 28: Desired improvements for cellular service, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                                  • Impact of discounts, deals and adding more lines
                                                                                                    • Figure 29: Desired improvements for cellular service, by male and age, December 2014
                                                                                                    • Figure 30: Desired improvements for cellular service, by female and age, December 2014
                                                                                                  • Desired improvements among carriers’ subscribers
                                                                                                    • Figure 31: Desired improvements for cellular service, by primary service provider, December 2014
                                                                                                • Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                    • Provider subscriptions
                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Mobile network providers subscribed to, by race and Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                    • Types of cellular plans used
                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Types of cell phone plans – Contract, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Types of cell phone plans – No-contract, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                    • Amount paid for cellular service varies across race/ethnicity
                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Amount paid for cellular service, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                    • Desired mobile service improvements
                                                                                                      • Figure 36: Desired improvements for cellular service, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                  • Qualitative Research

                                                                                                    • Opinions regarding current provider’s service
                                                                                                      • Interest in switching carriers
                                                                                                        • Contract versus no-contract plans
                                                                                                        • Key Driver Analysis

                                                                                                          • Methodology
                                                                                                            • Mobile internet – Consumers want more speed
                                                                                                              • Figure 37: Key drivers of overall satisfaction with mobile network providers, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 38: Overall satisfaction with mobile network provider - Key driver output, December 2014
                                                                                                          • Appendix – Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                            • Carriers subscribed to
                                                                                                              • Figure 39: Mobile network providers subscribed to, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 40: Mobile network providers subscribed to, by race and Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Types of cell phone plans
                                                                                                              • Figure 41: Types of cell phone plans, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Contract plans
                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Types of cell phone plans – Contract, by household size, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Types of cell phone plans – Contract, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Types of cell phone plans – Contract, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 45: Types of cell phone plans – Contract, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 46: Types of cell phone plans – Contract, by presence of children in household, December 2014
                                                                                                            • No-contract plans
                                                                                                              • Figure 47: Types of cell phone plans – No-contract, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Types of cell phone plans – No-contract, by presence of children in household, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 49: Types of cell phone plans – No-contract, by household size, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Amount of data in cell phone plans
                                                                                                              • Figure 50: Types of cell phone plans, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 51: Types of cell phone plans, by household size, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Types of cell phone plans, by race and hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Types of cell phone plans, by mobile service provider, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Amount paid for cellular service
                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Amount paid for cellular service, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Amount paid for cellular service, by household size, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Amount paid for cellular service, by male and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 57: Amount paid for cellular service, by female and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 58: Amount paid for cellular service, by presence of children in household, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 59: Amount paid for cellular service, by type of service plan, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 60: Amount paid for cellular service, by individual and family plans, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Opinions regarding cellular services
                                                                                                              • Figure 61: Cellular service selection process, by primary service provider, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 62: Cellular service selection process, by individual and family plans, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 63: Cellular service selection process, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Satisfaction with existing service
                                                                                                              • Figure 64: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 65: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 66: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by household size, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 67: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by male and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 68: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by female and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 69: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by type of service plan, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 70: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by amount paid for cellular service, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 71: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by individual and family plans, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 72: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by male and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 73: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by female and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 74: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by primary service provider, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 75: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by type of service plan, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 76: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by amount paid for cellular service, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 77: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any satisfied, by individual and family plans, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 78: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by gender and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 79: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 80: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by male and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 81: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by female and age, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 82: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by primary service provider, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 83: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by type of service plan, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 84: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by amount paid for cellular service, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 85: Consumer satisfaction with existing service – Any dissatisfied, by individual and family plans, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Desired improvements for cellular services
                                                                                                              • Figure 86: Desired improvements for cellular service, by household income, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 87: Desired improvements for cellular service, by type of service plan, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 88: Desired improvements for cellular service, by amount paid for cellular service, December 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 89: Desired improvements for cellular service, by individual and family plans, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Business usage of cell phones
                                                                                                              • Figure 90: Business usage of cell phones, by age, January 2014-September 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 91: Business usage of cell phones, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2014-September 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 92: Business usage of cell phones, by household income, January 2014-September 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 93: Business usage of cell phones, by gender and age, January 2014-September 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 94: Business usage of cell phones, February 2011-September 2014
                                                                                                            • Length of time with current provider
                                                                                                              • Figure 95: Length of time with current service provider, by age, January 2014-September 2014
                                                                                                              • Figure 96: Length of time with current service provider, by household income, January 2014-September 2014
                                                                                                          • Appendix – K ey Driver Analysis

                                                                                                              • Interpretation of results
                                                                                                                • Figure 97: Overall satisfaction with mobile network provider - Key driver output, December 2014
                                                                                                                • Figure 98: Consumer satisfaction with existing service, by mobile network provider, December 2014
                                                                                                            • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                • 4G Americas
                                                                                                                  • Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS)
                                                                                                                    • Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
                                                                                                                      • CDMA Development Group (CDG)
                                                                                                                        • CTIA-The Wireless Association
                                                                                                                          • GSM Association (GSMA)
                                                                                                                            • Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)
                                                                                                                              • Open Mobile Alliance (OMA)
                                                                                                                                • Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

                                                                                                                                Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                • AT&T Inc.
                                                                                                                                • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
                                                                                                                                • T-Mobile International AG
                                                                                                                                • Verizon Communications Inc.

                                                                                                                                Mobile Network Providers - US - March 2015

                                                                                                                                US $3,995.00 (Excl.Tax)