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Mobile Network Providers - US - April 2019

Covered in this report

For the purposes of this report, Mintel defines the mobile network market as consisting of payments to telecommunications carriers for wireless services and equipment. Network selection, mobile voice, text, and data communication among smartphone owners aged 18+ are the focus of this report.

The majority of the mobile telecommunications market consists of smartphone owners, and consumers are using more data every day. While pricing is the most important factor behind network choice, consumers are increasingly looking for unlimited plans. Network coverage and reliability are top considerations, but trust is a growing concern, especially with data throttling. Intense competition is happening right as 5G connectivity is expected to hit US markets, which will open a new battlefront for mobile networks in the near future."
- Buddy Lo, Senior Technology Analyst

This Report looks at the following areas:

  • Mobile network market size and forecast
  • Network providers by brand
  • Consumer mobile network plan types
  • Attitudes toward mobile network providers

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • The issues
            • Network providers will have difficulty getting consumers to switch
              • Figure 1: Interest in changing mobile network plans, January 2019
            • Trust and transparency in data plans are issues among smartphone owners
              • Figure 2: Attitudes toward mobile network providers – data plans, by age, January 2019
            • Price sensitivity limits margins
              • Figure 3: Desired features, January 2019
            • Equipment revenue under pressure to make up for lagging service revenue
              • Figure 4: Share of total US retail sales of mobile network providers, by segment, 2013-18
            • The opportunities
              • Dramatic growth in unlimited data plans
                • Figure 5: Mobile network plans, 2011-18
              • First mover in 5G development could get consideration from 36% of the market
                • Figure 6: Attitudes toward mobile networks – 5G, by 5G awareness, January 2019
              • Bundling entertainment and home internet could attract more cable cutters
                • Figure 7: Attitudes toward mobile network providers – bundling and hotspot services, by age, January 2019
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • 5G will have tremendous implications for mobile networks
                  • Data consumption needs drive higher adoption of unlimited plans
                    • Low cost plans for vehicles, smart devices, and wearables could increase service revenue
                      • Younger children are getting on the family plan
                      • Market Size and Forecast

                        • 5G technology will spur next wave of spending and development
                          • Figure 8: Total US retail sales and fan chart forecast with best- and worst-case scenarios of mobile network providers, at current prices, 2013-23
                          • Figure 9: Total US retail sales and forecast of mobile network providers, at current prices, 2013-23
                      • Market Breakdown

                        • Lowering service revenues place pressure on equipment sales
                          • Figure 10: Total US retail sales of mobile network providers, by segment, at current prices, 2016 and 2018
                          • Figure 11: Total US retail sales of mobile network providers, by segment, at current prices, 2013-18
                        • Unlimited becoming the norm for voice, text, data plans
                          • Figure 12: Mobile network plans, 2011-18
                        • More US consumers are paying $250+ for their phone bills
                          • Figure 13: Mobile network spending, 2012-18
                      • Market Perspective

                        • Network providers expanding services beyond the cell phone
                          • Automotive
                            • Wearables
                              • Smart home devices
                                • Figure 14: Verizon direct mail, October 2018
                              • Bundling will consolidate various services with a single provider
                              • Market Factors

                                • 5G spurs new front in mobile competition
                                  • Figure 15: Sprint information email, November 2018
                                  • Figure 16: 5G awareness and knowledge, January 2019
                                • Phone exclusives may become more prevalent in an early 5G environment
                                  • Figure 17: Motorola acquisition email, December 2018
                                • Fight over net neutrality continues
                                  • Younger and younger kids in the household getting cell phones
                                    • Figure 18: Smartphone ownership, by children’s ages, November 2018
                                • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                  • Verizon’s 5G ambitions in US
                                    • T-Mobile-Sprint merger may make it the third largest network provider
                                      • Home cable and internet providers look to go mobile
                                        • AT&T catches flak for 5G E signal icon update
                                          • Figure 19: The Verge twitter account, January 2019
                                      • Brands of Mobile Networks

                                        • Verizon leads wireless market
                                          • Figure 20: Top 5 Mobile network providers, 2011-18
                                          • Figure 21: Mobile network providers, 2011-18
                                      • What’s Working?

                                        • T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” approach wins over consumers
                                          • Verizon customers feel they have the best coverage and reception
                                          • What’s Struggling?

                                            • Sprint subscribers continue to dwindle
                                              • Verizon catches bad publicity for mishandling forest firefighters’ data during emergency situations
                                              • What’s Next?

                                                • 5G…
                                                  • Huawei phones and network equipment?
                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                    • Verizon tops market share among providers
                                                      • T-Mobile winning the young, the urban, and the multicultural
                                                        • Streaming services can spur customers to add new lines
                                                          • 5G could be a big first mover advantage opportunity
                                                          • Mobile Network Providers

                                                            • Verizon is the top wireless provider for consumers
                                                              • Figure 22: Mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 23: Mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                            • Verizon subscribers have higher household income
                                                              • Figure 24: Mobile network provider, by household income, January 2019
                                                            • Family plans account for the majority of the consumer market
                                                              • Figure 25: Mobile phone plan type – Single or multi-line, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 26: Parental status, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                            • Bundling home and internet leads to success for Verizon in Northeast
                                                              • Figure 27: Mobile network provider, by region, January 2019
                                                            • T-Mobile’s urban presence a winner among multicultural consumers
                                                              • Figure 28: Mobile network provider, by area, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 29: Distribution of race and Hispanic origin, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                            • Apple owners stick to mainstream network providers
                                                              • Figure 30: Mobile network provider, by mobile phone brand, January 2019
                                                            • Black smartphone owners more likely to use Metro, Boost, or Cricket
                                                              • Figure 31: Mobile network providers – Boost, Cricket, and Metro, by race and Hispanic origin, January 2019
                                                          • Mobile Network Plans

                                                            • Business lines account for less than 5% of primary phones
                                                              • Figure 32: Mobile plan type and data plan, January 2019
                                                            • T-Mobile and Sprint get more unlimited data customers
                                                              • Figure 33: Mobile data plan, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 34: AT&T statement mailing, February 2019
                                                            • Younger women more likely than younger men to stay on a family plan
                                                              • Figure 35: Mobile plan type – Single or multi-line, by gender and age, and gender and relationship status, January 2019
                                                            • Younger consumers seek unlimited data plans
                                                              • Figure 36: Mobile data plan, January 2019
                                                          • Interest in Changing Mobile Network Plans

                                                            • Two thirds of subscribers have no interest in changing plans or providers
                                                              • Figure 37: Interest in changing mobile network plans/providers, January 2019
                                                            • One in five Sprint customers looking for a change
                                                              • Figure 38: Interest in changing mobile network provider, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 39: Sprint informational email, April 2018
                                                            • T-Mobile has a better opportunity to upgrade current customers
                                                              • Figure 40: Interest in changing mobile network plans, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                            • Gen Z and Millennials show stronger interest in changing
                                                              • Figure 41: Interest in changing mobile network plans/provider, by generation, January 2019
                                                            • Streaming services incentivize consumers to add phone lines
                                                              • Figure 42: Current mobile network perceptions, by interest in changing mobile network plans, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 43: T-Mobile direct mail, August 2018
                                                            • New lines and networks go alongside new smartphone purchases
                                                              • Figure 44: Smartphone purchase intent, interest in changing mobile network plans, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 45: AT&T veterans acquisition email, February 2019
                                                          • Current Mobile Network Perceptions

                                                            • Coverage and price top consumer perceptions of their own networks
                                                              • Figure 46: Current mobile network perceptions, January 2019
                                                            • Verizon wins on coverage and reception quality
                                                              • Figure 47: Current mobile network perceptions, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 48: Current mobile network perceptions – Coverage, by mobile network plan, January 2019
                                                            • T-Mobile leads “Big 4” in pricing and customer service perceptions
                                                              • Figure 49: Current mobile network perceptions, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                            • AT&T customers like the phone selection
                                                              • Figure 50: Current mobile network perceptions, by mobile network provider, January 2019
                                                          • Desired Features

                                                            • Cost and unlimited data top desired features among consumers looking to switch
                                                              • Figure 51: Desired features, January 2019
                                                            • Unlimited plans, coverage, and speed have wide appeal in change
                                                              • Figure 52: TURF analysis – Factors in carrier selection, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 53: TURF analysis (Table) – Factors in carrier selection, January 2019
                                                          • Attitudes toward Mobile Network Providers

                                                            • Data speeds a top priority for younger smartphone owners
                                                              • Figure 54: Attitudes toward mobile network providers – Data speeds, by generation, January 2019
                                                            • 5G marketing should be focused on younger men
                                                              • Figure 55: Attitudes toward mobile networks – 5G, by gender and age, January 2019
                                                            • Opportunity to bundle additional services among English-speaking Hispanic Millennials
                                                              • Figure 56: Attitudes toward mobile network providers – bundling and replacement, by generation and Hispanic-origin, January 2019
                                                            • Distrust more prevalent among younger smartphone owners
                                                              • Figure 57: Attitudes toward mobile network providers – Throttling and data limits, by generation and Hispanic-origin, January 2019
                                                              • Figure 58: Verizon direct mail, January 2019
                                                          • Consumer Segmentation

                                                            • Four segments of smartphone owners with implications for mobile network providers
                                                                • Figure 59: Network segments of attitudes toward mobile network service, January 2019
                                                                • Figure 60: Mobile network provider, by network segments, January 2019
                                                              • Mainstreamers
                                                                • Characteristics
                                                                    • Figure 61: Profile of Mainstreamers, January 2019
                                                                  • Opportunities
                                                                    • Status Qu’old
                                                                      • Characteristics
                                                                          • Figure 62: Profile of Status Qu’old, January 2019
                                                                        • Opportunities
                                                                          • Network Changers
                                                                            • Characteristics
                                                                                • Figure 63: Profile of Network Changers, January 2019
                                                                              • Opportunities
                                                                                • Figure 64: Smartphone purchase intent, by segments, January 2019
                                                                                • Figure 65: Desired features from next phone, by segments, January 2019
                                                                                • Figure 66: Interest in changing mobile network plans, by segments, January 2019
                                                                                • Figure 67: Attitudes toward smartphones and mobile networks, by segments, January 2019
                                                                              • Family Plan Members
                                                                                • Characteristics
                                                                                    • Figure 68: Profile of Family Plan Members, January 2019
                                                                                  • Opportunities
                                                                                      • Figure 69: Attitudes toward mobile networks – bundling, by segments, January 2019
                                                                                      • Figure 70: Attitudes toward mobile networks – Bundling, by segments, January 2019
                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                    • Data sources
                                                                                      • Sales data
                                                                                        • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                                            • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                                  • Terms
                                                                                                    • TURF analysis – Methodology
                                                                                                      • Figure 71: TURF Analysis (Table) – Factors in carrier selection, January 2019

                                                                                                  Mobile Network Providers - US - April 2019

                                                                                                  US $4,395.00 (Excl.Tax)