skip to main content
Close Icon We use cookies to improve your website experience.  To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy.  By continuing to use the website, you consent to our use of cookies.
Global Search Configuration


It has been two years since US operators first decoupled devices from service plans. Now leasing models are gaining traction in the US. But we believe not all operators will follow suit and separate device and service plans or introduce leasing.


  • In several regions including Latin America, Western Europe, and North America operators offer separate contracts for handsets and services. The US thrust the issue into the spotlight globally in 2013, when disruptor T-Mobile decoupled. Its rivals followed suit to remain competitive.

Features and Benefits

  • Assesses why the US market has decoupled handsets and service plans, and what this has meant for revenues and take-up.
  • Examines other key device-financing models and asks whether there will be any major changes in the next five years.

Key questions answered

  • Why did the US decouple handsets and what has been the success rate?
  • Have other markets also decoupled and were these measures a success?

Table of contents


  • In brief
  • Ovum view
  • Recommendations

Market dynamics

  • Decoupling the handset from the service plan
  • Abolishing subsidized service plans in the US
  • Western European operators also decouple handsets
  • Regulatory drivers influence decoupling
  • Canada goes down decoupling road for regulatory reasons
  • Leasing as a device-financing model
  • Early leasing models in Western Europe fail to gain traction
  • Device bundled into postpaid plan for a monthly fee
  • Device bundled into postpaid plan, with cash option
  • Device bundled into plan, with instalments
  • Early upgrades as a device-financing model
  • Cashback offered on various plans, including in China
  • Paying off devices via m-banking
  • Paying off devices via credit card

Market outlook

  • Advantages of device separation in the US
  • Financial impact of decoupling: US experience
  • Impact of device separation on handset replacement cycles
  • Impact of device separation in Europe
  • Will other telcos decouple and follow US and Canada?
  • Outlook in emerging markets
  • Future models


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Author

Recommended Articles

  • Internet of Things

    IoT Viewpoints 2018

    IoT Viewpoints explore the IoT opportunity in 2018 and beyond. Download our latest e-book to get our newest collection of thought leadership articles on the emerging IoT trends, technologies and opportunities.

    Topics IoT

  • Consumer & Entertainment Services

    US pay TV: Is it facing an existential threat?

    By Adam Thomas 28 Mar 2018

    With US pay TV having endured the worst year in its history, thoughts have inevitably turned to the future. The likelihood remains that the immediate future will remain highly uncomfortable for everyone except the scaled multinational digital platforms.

  • Enterprise Services

    5G: Another technology in search of enterprise use cases

    By Evan Kirchheimer 26 Apr 2018

    Service provider interest in justifying 5G investment through its potential to open new revenue streams from the enterprise segment is growing ever greater.


Have any questions? Speak to a Specialist

Europe, Middle East & Africa team - +44 (0) 207 017 7700

Asia-Pacific team - +61 (0)3 960 16700

US team - +1 646 957 8878

Email us at

You can also contact your named/allocated Client Services Executive using their direct dial.
PR enquiries - Call us at +44 788 597 5160 or email us at

Contact marketing -

Already an Ovum client? Login to the Knowledge Center now