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Summary:

Verizon and AT&T may not have the huge subscriber bases of the big multinational operators, but they certainly make money off the customers they do have. Only China Mobile brings in more revenue.

Number 1 foam hands rankings
photo: Shutterstock / Kittisak

The two titans of the U.S. continue to make big gains in the global carrier rankings. The big multinational mobile companies like Telefónica, América Móvil, Bharti Airtel, and Orange still have far more subscribers than either, but Verizon Wireless and AT&T more than make up for it in terms of revenue.

GSMA Intelligence’s new global carrier scoreboard found that AT&T has joined Verizon in the top 3 in mobile revenues, leapfrogging the biggest of the multinationals Vodafone. China Mobile is still the number one carrier in the world in both revenues and subscribers, and China’s other mobile operators continue to make big gains in both categories, according to GSMA Intelligence, the GSM Association’s research arm.

GSMA Intelligence 2013 Carrier Scoreboard

That AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are growing faster than their international peers might seem surprising given the saturation of the U.S., but the two have managed to pull off an interesting trick. While nearly every multinational added millions of subscribers in the last year, their revenue growth didn’t keep up. Verizon and AT&T, by serving a single, large highly lucrative market, already have some of the highest average revenues per subscriber globally — and that average revenue is increasing, not decreasing.

Neither AT&T and Verizon cracked the top 10 in terms of total subscribers, and the way things are going they may even risk falling out of the top 20. But as long as we Americans are accustomed to paying a lot for our mobile voice and data services, AT&T and Verizon are going to remain two of the most powerful and profitable operators in the world.

  1. this is really a sign of how massively overpriced cellular service is in the US.

    consumers need to look at this as a major negative not a positive of our carrier landscape.

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  2. ARPU in america needs to come down, way down

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    1. Kevin Fitchard Friday, July 5, 2013

      Hey Tom,

      Everyone in the world seems to wonder why Americans pay so much for mobile, except for Americans themselves. I agree with you that prices are two high and need to come down, but there are a lot of low cost options, and it’s not like AT&T and Verizon’s customers are flocking to them. I get the impression we’re really going to need to change the way consumers think about device costs and subsidies before we see any big shift away from these so-called premium services.

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  3. As Vodafone owns 45% of Verizon Wireless it would be reasonable to add a further 29.5 billion to Vodafone’s revenue giving a total of $84 billion in revenues. That would put Vodafone way out in front of AT&T.
    Also, where is Verizon Communications in all this eh???

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    1. Derek Kerton Monday, July 8, 2013

      @Taffy: I’m pretty sure Mr Fitchard is writing about revenues from operations as a cellular phone company, not as an investor in Verizon. I made this giant leap by using the words in the article he wrote:

      “but they certainly make money off the customers they do have.”

      “GSMA Intelligence’s new global carrier scoreboard found that AT&T has joined Verizon in the top 3 in mobile revenues”

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