This IDC study analyzes the outlook for the prepaid and postpaid segments of the U.S. mobile services market for 2017–2022. U.S. wireless subscribers will grow to 356.3 million by 2022 at a 0.8% CAGR from 342.0 million in 2017. Postpaid will provide the engine for subscriber growth, driven by a strong economic environment and the introduction of new cellular-enabled form factors, such as wearables. Subscribers in the postpaid space will grow from 261.6 million in 2017 to 278.6 million in 2022 at a 1.3% CAGR. The prepaid space will see a -0.7% CAGR over the forecast period, falling to 77.7 million subscribers.
"The U.S. mobile subscriber market has demonstrated surprising strength despite a population penetration rate above 100%, driven by overall economic growth and new device types that utilize cellular connectivity," says Jason Leigh, senior research analyst, Mobility. "Despite postpaid's dominance in consumers' share of wallet, influenced by unlimited plans and the segment's history as a first mover for new services, there remains a symbiotic relationship with prepaid that shifts as economic fortunes ebb and flow."