There are three cellular phone providers who are neck in neck in the competition for the most subscribers in the US.
Currently in the lead is Cingular Wireless, with slightly over 57 million subscribers and a steadily decreasing ‘churn’, which is an industry term referring to the amount of customers canceling their service each month. Cingular Wireless was formed in 2001 as a merger between SBC Communications and BellSouth, and then another merger in 2004 when Cingular bought AT&T Wireless for $41 billion dollars, pushing them into the number one spot as most popular cell phone carrier in the US.
In 2006 Cingular aggressively advertised a claim that they had the fewest dropped calls of any carrier – however the market research company that they used as a source, Telephia, later denied that the claims Cingular were accurate. Slightly behind Cingular in subscriber numbers, with slightly under 57 million subscribers, is Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless was formed in 2000 by a $90 billion dollar merger between Vodafone AirTouch and Bell Atlantic Corp. Shortly thereafter the assets of GTE Wireless were added to Verizon Wireless’s business, making them at the time the most popular cell phone carrier. In 2004 Cingular lost their number one position in subscriber numbers when Cingular merged with AT&T Wireless.
Third place in the US cell phone provider market is Sprint Nextel Corporation. Sprint runs a CDMA cellular network, as does Verizon Wireless, in contrast to Cingular’s GSM network. They have approximately 52 million subscribers currently. Sprint Nextel was formed in 2005 by the No. 3 and No. 5 leading cell phone providers in the US, Sprint and NEXTEL. Sprint Nextel offers cell phone service under two brands, Sprint PCS and Nextel, as well as offers wholesale access to its PCS wireless network to companies including 9278 Mobile, Virgin Mobile, EarthLink Wireless, BeyondMobile, Working Assets, Telispire, Excel Wireless, STI Mobile, Liberty Wireless, Powernet Global, PlatinumTel, ConnexOne, Disney Mobile, Movida Wireless, Helio, Primus Wireless, Voce, Jitterbug Wireless, Humane Wireless and Qwest.