Recap: Wireless Operator Subscriber Reports

Tue, 05/22/2012 - 7:06am
Associated Press

Here is a summary of reports for selected telecommunications companies and what they reveal about their own and the industry's prospects:

April 19: Verizon Wireless gained 501,000 subscribers under contract-based plans in the quarter, slightly above analyst expectations. Contract-based plans are the most lucrative. The average monthly bill for subscribers on such plans was $55.43, up 3.6 percent from a year ago, thanks largely to iPhones coming to Verizon last year. However, most of the profit ends up flowing to Apple because of iPhone subsidies. On the landline side, revenue at Verizon Communications Inc. continued to decline slowly as customers continue to cancel their phone and DSL lines.

April 24: AT&T says it gained a net 187,000 customers on contract-based plans in the first quarter, but these were almost all tablet users, brought in by the launch of the new iPad in March. AT&T gained a net 726,000 subscribers of all kinds in the first quarter, counting ones on no-contract plans and ones on non-phone devices like the Kindle. That was the lowest figure in eight years, and less than a third of the number of subscribers added in the same period last year.

April 25: Sprint Nextel says it added a net 263,000 subscribers to the Sprint network on contract-based plans. That was up just a smidgen from a year ago, but it comes as AT&T and Verizon Wireless have seen big drops in new customers.

Leap Wireless International, the nation's sixth-largest cell phone carrier and operator of the Cricket brand, says it had 258,000 net new customers in the quarter. The company says that nearly 62 percent of new handset sales in the quarter were for smartphones or phones that can use its Muve Music unlimited music subscription service. Smartphone or Muve customers tend to generate more revenue for the company.

April 26: MetroPCS Communications says it gained a net 131,654 subscribers in the quarter, the worst result in years for the first quarter, which is normally the company's strongest. It ended the quarter with 9.5 million customers.

Clearwire ended the first quarter with about 11 million total subscribers. The subscriber base consists of 1.3 million retail subscribers and 9.7 million wholesale subscribers. Wholesale subscribers consist primarily of Sprint 3G/4G smartphone customers.

Time Warner Cable says it added 422,000 voice customers in the quarter to end with 5.1 million. Most of the gains came from the February acquisition of Insight Communications, a cable TV company with customers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

May 2: Comcast says it gained 164,000 voice customers to end the quarter with 9.5 million.

May 4: U.S. Cellular Corp., a unit of Telephone Data and Systems, says it lost 38,000 subscribers from contract-based plans and 49,000 overall. However, 34.4 percent of the phones on contract-based plans are now smartphones, which come with higher fees for data. That's up from 20.2 percent a year ago, and meant that U.S. Cellular boosted the average monthly cellphone bill from $47.65 a year ago to $50.52. The company ended the quarter with 5.84 million customers.

May 7: Frontier Communications ended the quarter with 3.2 million residential lines, down about 71,000 from the previous quarter.

May 9: CenturyLink says it had 14.4 million access lines, a loss of 205,000 during the quarter.

May 10: Deutsche Telekom AG says its T-Mobile USA lost 510,000 branded contract customers, while the prepaid business saw an increase of 187,000 customers.

Windstream, a local-phone company that's transforming itself into a business telecommunications provider, says it had 1.9 million consumer voice lines, a loss of about 16,000 during the quarter.



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