Network Traffic Forecast and Analysis – 2013-2017

Market Studies


The U.S. Cellular Industry –
Analysis and Forecasts:
Manufacturers, Operating Systems and Carriers

Published: November, 2013


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This is the report that has it all about the US cellular industry. It not only provides overviews of current statistics, architecture descriptions and histories, and current comparisons, but its centerpieces of each major section are forecasts through 2019. There are forecasts for traffic, for active devices, for average Busy Hour traffic per device, for devices and traffic by carrier. There are also forecasts for device sales (very different from active devices) and for operating systems sales. Every forecast is also accompanied by an exhaustive analysis.

The cellular industry has sprung in the last thirty years from nothing to a major force in virtually everyone’s lives. Along the way, it has toppled one of the longest lasing, most successful and most pervasive industries in the world – the wireline telephone industry. This report focuses on the cellular (mobile) market in the United States and provides comprehensive and consistent forecasts for that industry (devices, device sales by manufacturer, sales of operating systems, carriers, and traffic per device) in a completed consistent and unified manner for the period 2013-2019.

Cellular service as we know it today was introduced in the US in the mid-2005s, with the deployment of 3G, a digital service that used packet switching for the data. In the last few years (starting in about 2009) 4G has been introduced bring much higher speed data capabilities and an all IP based service. This service is known as LTE (Long Term Evolution) for most carriers and as WiMAX by Sprint.

Cellular service has become so popular that many residents are discontinuing their landline service entirely. The landline telephone companies (mainly Verizon and AT&T) are losing landline customers by around 5% a year as a result of this. Because this loss has major implications for the wireless business, this report will also investigate the causes and possible impacts of it.

The following are some facts about the US cellular market that will put its growth in proper perspective.

• Wireless penetration at the end of 2012 was 102%.

• Almost 40% of the households are wireless only.

• There are over 300,000 cell sites.

• There are over 2,000,000,000,000 text messages a year.

• The industry invests capital of over $30,000,000,000 a year on growth.

• The average American cell phone user owns three (3) or more expired cell phones.

• The average US consumer only uses their current cell phone for 12 to 18 months.

Organization of the Report

This report will begin with a section devoted to developing fundamental forecasts that will be used throughout the report. These base forecasts will be for active devices (those actually connected to a carrier), traffic per device in the busy hour, and total traffic. The next section will be devoted to carriers and we will spend some time reviewing the basic architecture of the cellular network and a brief history of its development. The next section will discuss device sales by major manufacturer. The last section will be devoted to operating systems. The centerpieces of each section will be forecasts through 2019 for the material in the section. This report contains over 90 pages and over 45 charts and graphs.

The Appendixes will be devoted to providing the reader with material (listings of carriers, traffic terminology, history of major players, etc.) too bulky to place in the main section of the report.

Report Author

This report was written by Clifford R. Holliday, the author of the highly popular Lightwave series of reports from Information Gatekeepers. He has long been associated with forecasting technology issues. Mr. Holliday spent over 30 years at GTE where he was VP in charge of Technology Planning in Business Planning. Since then he has run his own telecom consulting business (B&C Consulting Services) which provides network development and telecom business planning services to selected clients, and he has published over forty major market and technical reports through Information Gatekeepers.

Table of Contents




The Lightwave Network

The Lightwave Series of Reports

General Reports on the Network

General Market Reports

Specific Systems Reports



Mobile Devices - Forecast

Traffic Per Use - Forecast

United States Traffic Forecast

Mobile Traffic on the Network

Use of Forecasts in the Report


Major carriers are becoming Wireless Access Companies

The Wireless Access Landscape

Forecast for Wireline to Wireless

RBOC Loss of Main Lines

It’s a Wireless Access Industry!

Can Advanced Architecture Services Make-Up the Revenue Gap?

Major US Cellular Carriers

Worldwide Mobile Companies

Subscribers by Major Carriers, North America – Forecast

Cellular Architecture

Link to/from Network

Mobile Switching Office (MSU)

Tower Connection


Tower to Device Connection

Cellular Device

Operating System

Traffic per Carrier - Forecast


Forecast for Active US Mobile Devices

World Device Sales - Actual

US Device Sales – Actual and Forecast

Traffic by Manufacturer – Forecast


Introduction and History

Comparison of Operating Systems

World Operating System Usage

Operating System Sales Forecast




Internet Traffic Calculations


Apple – The Best Device Maker in History

History of Apple

Microsoft – The Preeminent Software Developer in History

History of Microsoft


Overbuild – How?

Overbuild - Significance

A New Type of Competition

Summary of Overbuild Forecasts

Table of Figures

Figure 1, Lightwave Network
Figure 2, Theoretical Traffic Equation
Figure 3, Practical Traffic Equation
Figure 4, Forecast for US Active Mobile Devices
Figure 5, Forecast for US Active Mobile Devices – Table Form
Figure 6, Practical Traffic Equation
Figure 7, Traffic per use Forecast - United States Mobile Devices
Figure 8, Traffic per use Forecast - United States Mobile Devices- Table
Figure 9, United States Mobile Traffic Forecast
Figure 10, United States Mobile Traffic Forecast - Table
Figure 11, Mobile Network Access
Figure 12, Dilemma of Wireline vs. Wireless
Figure 13, Mobile Service Access Architecture
Figure 14, Wireless Competition
Figure 15, Summary for Wireline to Wireless Migration
Figure 16, Verizon Wireline vs. Wireless Revenues
Figure 17, Verizon Loss of Main Lines vs. Wireline Revenue
Figure 18, Wireline Customers vs. Wireline Total Revenue
Figure 19, Alternatives for Making AAA Lines More Important
Figure 20, FiOS vs. Uverse Services
Figure 21, FiOS vs. Uverse Quarterly Additions
Figure 22, Worlds Largest Mobile Phone Companies by Mobile Revenue
Figure 23, Subscribers by Carrier - Forecast
Figure 24, Subscribers by Carrier Forecast - Table
Figure 25, Mobile Service Access Architecture
Figure 26, Technologies and Frequencies
Figure 27, Current Licenses - US
Figure 28, BH Traffic per Carrier - Forecast
Figure 29, Lightwave Access Networks - Mobile Access
Figure 30, BH Traffic per Carrier – Forecast – Table
Figure 31, Forecast for US Active Mobile Devices
Figure 32, Worldwide Device Sales 2011 -2012
Figure 33, Forecast of US Device Sales
Figure 34, Forecast of US Device Sales - Table
Figure 35, Traffic by Manufacturer - US
Figure 36, Operating Systems Comparison
Figure 37, Worldwide Operating System Sales
Figure 38, Worldwide Operating System Installed Base
Figure 39, Forecast of US Device Sales
Figure 40, Forecast of US Device Sales – Table
Figure 41: Traffic/Speed Relationships
Figure 42: Example of Various Traffic Sizes
Figure 43, Multiples of Byte
Figure 44: New Transfer Rate Forecast
Figure 45: Summary of Concepts
Figure 2, Market Capitalization of Various Competitors - 2012
Figure 3, Market Capitalization of Various Competitors – 2013
Figure 46, Verizon's NOOF Arrangement
Figure 47, Overbuild Forecasts

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