AT&T and Verizon have long dominated the American cellular landscape, but there’s always been a top dog (more recently, Verizon). In the first quarter of the year, however, something strange happened — the carriers virtually tied each other for market share, according to estimates by analyst Chetan Sharma. While the providers publish different figures, Sharma believes that they both had 34 percent of US subscribers. AT&T reportedly leveled the playing field when it bought Leap and added all of Cricket’s customers.
Ever since it acquired Alltel back in 2009, Verizon has been indisputably at the top of the U.S. mobile carrier heap in terms of subscribers. But AT&T is again vying for that top spot, thanks to its recent acquisition of regional operator Leap Wireless, according to a new report by Chetan Sharma Consulting. At the end of the first quarter, AT&T and Verizon both controlled 34 percent of the mobile subscriptions in the U.S., according to Sharma’s estimates. It’s hard to pin exact numbers on those carriers, though, since both report subscribers differently. At the end of March, AT&T had 116 million total connections, but that number includes all of its wholesale subscribers (those that connect with one of AT&T’smobile virtual network operator partners) and machine-to-machine links attached to cars, gadgets and other devices in the internet of things. Verizon doesn’t report any of those numbers. It only reveals business and consumer retail subscribers buying their service directly from Verizon. That number totaled 103 million.