This IDC study analyzes the outlook for the prepaid and postpaid segments of the U.S. mobile services market for 2018–2023. The U.S. wireless subscriber base will grow to 382.3 million by 2023 at a 1.6% CAGR from 353.7 million in 2018. Postpaid continues to provide the momentum for subscriber growth, with stable economic performance and large uptake of cellular-enabled wearables underpinning the gains. Postpaid subscribers will grow from 273.9 million in 2018 to 303.8 million by 2023, a 2.1% CAGR. The prepaid market is slowing despite some strong growth by AT&T's Cricket Mobile and T-Mobile's MetroPCS brand as many prepaid subscribers step up to postpaid plans. Prepaid subscribers will decline at a 0.3% CAGR from 79.7 million in 2018 to 78.6 million by 2023.
"The resiliency of the U.S. wireless subscriber market continues to defy common sense expectations of a saturated market with nearly 1.1 cellular connections per person," says Jason Leigh, research manager, Mobility. "Wearables are bolstering postpaid subscriptions, and the coming 5G era is poised to make cellular connectivity viable in even more device types, some of which, especially on the consumer side, will be add-ons to existing mobile accounts that will drive overall subscriber totals higher."
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