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Churn is a Constant for U.S. Mobile Carriers

Forrester Research reports that almost one-fourth (24 percent) of U.S. mobile subscribers switched providers between 2004 and 2005, and another 16 percent plan to switch in the next two years or more.

Number portability, commoditized mobile offerings, and lifestyle-based service providers -- like Movida, Boost, ESPN, and Amp'd Mobile -- will continue to create churn, going forward. The 24 percent of U.S. mobile subs who switched carriers between 2004 and 2005 are younger, more likely to be female, less likely to be white, and are more optimistic about technology than the average mobile subscriber.

Most defectors went to Verizon and Cingular Wireless: 43 percent of AT&T Wireless' displaced subs were acquired in Cingular's buy-out. Many of Cingular's lost subscribers went to Verizon, while Verizon's turncoats signed up with Cingular and T-Mobile. Sprint lost subs to Verizon, while T-Mobile former subscribers went to Cingular. In this game of musical mobile providers, the biggest -- Verizon and Cingular -- win, while the littler guys -- like Alltel, Cellular One, and U.S. Cellular -- are just treading water.

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