Verizon: We’re Still Bigger Than AT&T, Me: I Agree


Yesterday, AT&T reported their Q4 2010 numbers and with it came a huge kudos: they surpassed Verizon Wireless as America’s largest carrier. Pulled directly from their neatly bulleted list of bravado we read the related stat:

Best-ever wireless net adds, with a more than 2.8 million increase in total wireless subscribers to reach 95.5 million subscribers in service

Did you know that 95.5 is larger than 94.1? Did you know that Verizon Wireless has 94.1 million subscribers? Did you know that numbers are deceiving and despite all the claims that AT&T is now the nation’s largest carrier, it’s actually Verizon Wireless that still holds the title?

Allow us to do the math.

There are two types of customers/device types in-play here: Customers Including Connections and Customers Excluding Connections. What’s the difference? Connected devices are those that a carrier sells but that don’t necessarily require a 2-year service plan. For example, you could buy a Kindle or iPad that uses AT&T service to connect but you’re not actually required to sign a contract longer than 1-month. If you include all these “extra” devices, yes, AT&T has 95.5 million customers.

Verizon’s 94.1 million customers? Those don’t include all the “extra” devices that might run on the network without a 2-year contract. If you include all those “extra” devices, Verizon has 102.2 million customers. And as I’m sure you know, 102.2 million is larger than 95.5 million.

Let’s visualize what’s going on:

So yes, you could say that AT&T is bigger than Verizon Wireless… but you’d be wrong. That’s comparing Apples to Oranges. Ironically, you want to compare Apples to Apples, and with Verizon on the brink of launching the iPhone… you’ll be able to compare Apples to Apples between Verizon and AT&T for years to come. But personally I prefer Androids to Androids.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. i don’t care, just give me good reception and speed

  2. ATT lied…

  3. Nice post breaking it down.

  4. @rob man you love verizon

  5. Good show, A+

  6. i enjoy the visual aid.

  7. I’m a-droid and I’m a-noid that ATT lied like this. ;)

  8. To bad they keep screwing their customers for extra profit. I an not sure how much longer us can stay with them if they show no loyalty to their long term faithful customer.

    Verizon customer 10 years, moto droid 2.

  9. Thank you for this article detailing what many people posted in the comments section of an article earlier this week, in which the claim was simply made that AT&T has more customers than Verizon. I’m glad you finally figured it out – Thank you more to the many commenters that had it figured out in the first place.

  10. the red arrows helped me figure out where they were going.

    If I wasn’t a comp engineering student, I’d bring this visual aide over to our business department and show them what real visual aides look like.

  11. Post your sources.

  12. and for the intertrolls, that last comment was laden with sarcasm, I am merely implying that business folk are bad at their job.

  13. There’s an executive at a company I worked for that would use the phrase “comparing apples and orangutans”. Now that’s brilliant management!!

  14. I speculate that AT&T uses Republican publicists. As alwyas, they are masterful in misinforming the public and camouflaging the truth : )

  15. more ppl mean jammed up servers fuck em both t mob all day

  16. WOW! Now allow me to ask one question: Who gives a crap?

  17. Att lied and peed

  18. AT&T is using what is commonly known as “Apple math”.

  19. Sam- you don’t speculate. You lie. Not surprising because that’s what drones do. Anyone feel that moving to ATT from TMO is a good move in terms of call quality, reception, data?

  20. I have a g2 on tmobile and I’m glad I have the fourth largest carrier. I get great speed with not everyone jamming up the network.

  21. Republican publicists? You mean any publicist? After all, the job a publicist is damage control.

  22. Sources, please?

  23. @Eugenio I had to read that like four times before I finally read it out loud and got it… And I stilled laughed!

  24. All carriers lie and cheat…its becoming more and more a regular part of the industry.

    @Matt: Yeah, phandroid in general (and I do love the site, dont get me wrong) is heavily VZW-slanted.)

  25. @ moses 4th largest carrier in customers, and 4th largest carrier in network. ha, might as well get us cellular

  26. @iamsteventucker: What does that have to do with the point moses was making?

  27. Okay seriously, stop talking about the damned iphone.

  28. @ moses
    I have a Vibrant and THEIR COVERAGE SUCKS! *spotty 3g, let alone “4g”*.

  29. who the fuck cares this is stupid.

  30. am i the first to say “that’s what she said”?

  31. i have a my t4g and its great,so stop drinking big red kool-aid.as must fanieboys do..nothing near iphone users..but now they on big red..to hell with them ,,i switched just for that..and actually this myt4g is fastest phone ive owned..you own a vibrant up your a**..you a liar.

  32. Don’t know why you guys keep complaining on not having a good reception. I have good reception everywhere I go.

  33. I’m just trying to figure out why it matters. Don’t people usually hate companies for being too big? Then when talking about their carriers, they all wanna be on the BIGGEST!

  34. lol Rob. you are my Android Hero!

  35. Who cares which one is bigger!! They both suck our blood.

  36. So.. Who lied ? … did AT&T tell you they were biggest ? .. I think someone (who ?) looked at the numbers and wrote this story saying that AT&T was bigger.. and now it’s AT&T that are liars ?

  37. Man. So many cry babies here. Go to different carrier then.

  38. Doesn’t At&T have a commercial that says “we don’t need fancy numbers…AT&T is the fastest and thats that” but they need numbers just a month later…THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMmmm!

  39. I would rather compare oranges to oranges and just leave the apples to rot.

  40. @ Matt. You are correct. Its called imath. Its patented. Litigation pending.

  41. As an earlier post said I don’t care. I have no investment in any of the two, and I could careless who’s the biggest carrier. Both provide the service, pick one. Comes down to that.

  42. In this mobile pi$$ing contest, there’s only one thing you need to know: just one carrier has more than ample backhaul to handle their subscriber base @ 4G speeds.

  43. lmao. You serious with this? Sure comes off a bit juvenile. And I agree with -^, wheres your sources? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black…Ridiculous post…

  44. @sam – Republican publicists? Funny. Everyone knows that the master of deception resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

  45. Verizon need to just buy at&t and make one huge cell phone company!

  46. Where I am at VZ rare. Poorest signal, even cricket is better. I am currently on att. Had T-Mobile, but switched when I started traveling out of state. With T-mobile it was rare to get a signal for normal calls, data was only available in major cities. So far I have not found a dead zone with att. Since VZ has little coverage here in Oklahoma, att is my only real choice.


  48. For those asking who cares. It matters when iFools are runningbaround touting that the iPhone pulled at&t past Verizon even with Android when it didn’t. You’d think they would finally realize that all these comscore and Neilsen numbers and the like are not lying and maybe its apple lying with all these sales figures while having a rather flat share.

  49. this particular pile of crap smells like apples.

  50. Statistics are like Bikini’s: what they reveal is exciting but what they hide is vital.

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