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Tablets Drive AT&T Q1 Gain In Retail Net Adds

Dallas –Tablets rode again to the rescue to expand AT&T’s first-quarter branded postpaid subscriber base.

AT&T gained 711,000 net new postpaid tablet subscriptions, offsetting a loss of 270,000 retail postpaid phone users to deliver a postpaid net subscriber gain of 441,000.

The 441,000, however, was down 29.4 percent from the year-ago 625,000.

Total branded net additions, combining postpaid subscriptions and prepaid voice subscriptions, fell 24.4 percent to 539,000 from the year-ago 713,000.

The number of net new prepaid voice subscribers rose to 98,000 from the year-ago 88,000.

The company lost 266,000 reseller subscriptions.

The number of net new connected devices, however, surged 70.3 percent to 945,000 from the year-ago 555,000. Connected devices include connected vehicles.

Because of the connected-device gains and the tablet surge, AT&T’s total net adds grew 14.7 percent to 1.22 million from the year-ago 1.06 million.

Next plans: The company also announced that 65 percent of all postpaid smartphones activated in the quarter were purchased on a Next installment-payment plan, up from 58 percent in last year’s fourth quarter, 50 percent in last year’s third and second quarters, and 40 percent in last year’s first quarter.

Combined with 313,000 bring-your-own-device smartphones activated, 70 percent of smartphones activated in the quarter were not subsidized by AT&T, the company said.

More than 30 percent of the postpaid smartphone subscriber base is on a Next plan, up from 15 percent in the previous quarter.

About 62 percent of postpaid smartphone subscribers, or 35.4 million, are on no-device-subsidy Mobile Share Value plans.

Wireless revenues, profits: For the quarter, total wireless revenues rose 1.8 percent from the year-ago quarter to $18.2 billion, and wireless operating income fell 12 percent to $4.4 billion. Wireless operating income margin fell to 24.5 percent from the year-ago 28.3 percent.