US wireless penetration reaches 70%, 200 mln subscribers

Although the US wireless service provider industry rocketed ahead in 2005, adding approximately 21.8 mln new subscribers, IDC finds the US consumer wireless industry rapidly approaching key turning points in 2006. With subscriber growth slowing and continued voice average revenue per user (ARPU) erosion factors, total voice revenue is expected to decline in the 2008-2009 timeframe.

The US wireless service provider industry had another stellar year in 2005, crossing the 200 mln subscriber and 70% market penetration thresholds, receiving positive market response to the first handset-based 3G applications, and with providers reporting they had crossed the 10% data ARPU level. Another key dynamic in 2005 was that mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) moved into the market entry phase; two key roles that MVNOs will play over the forecast period are to force the broader wireless service provider market to adopt a retail market model approach and to increase the overall level of service provider competition.