AT&T, Verizon Benefit From iPhone, Smartphone Demand

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Both AT&T and Verizon benefitted from demand for Apple’s iPhone in the fourth quarter (see financial above) and smartphones in general for the quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2011.

AT&T posted a net increase in total wireless subscribers of 2.5 million in the fourth quarter, to reach 103.2 million in service, and the increase reflected accelerated adoption of smartphones, including the October launch of iPhone 4S, sales of tablets and other products.

AT&T reported its best-ever smartphone sales quarter — up nearly 60 percent from the year-ago period, with 9.4 million smartphones sold in Q4. Smartphone sales in Q4 represented more than 80 percent of postpaid device sales, and both iPhone and Android devices sales set records.

In Q4 more than 7.6 million iPhones were activated, the majority of which were iPhone 4S, which went on sale Oct. 14. More than twice as many Android smartphones were sold vs. the fourth quarter a year ago.

Verizon’s activations of 4G devices and Apple iPhones soared in the fourth quarter to 2.3 million and 4.3 million, respectively, with iPhone sales more than doubling from the third quarter’s 2 million.

Activations of 4G devices rose to an all-time quarterly high of 2.3 million from the third quarter’s 1.4 million. The fourth-quarter number combines 1.6 million 4G smartphones and 700,000 4G data devices.

Overall 3G and 4G smartphone activations hit 7.7 million in the quarter, marking the carrier’s best quarter ever for smartphone activations. Smartphone activations rose from the third quarter’s 5.6 million to put the carriers’ installed base of retail-postpaid smartphone subscribers at 44 percent of the company’s total postpaid subscriber base. That’s up from 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

But while both AT&T reported higher wireless and corporate sales during the quarter, both posted overall losses for the period. AT&T had consolidated revenues of $32.5 billion, up $1.1 billion or 3.6 percent year on year, but reported a loss of $6.7 billion due to several items, most notably the termination of the TMobile USA acquisition.

Verizon reported consolidated revenues of $28.4 billion up 7.7 percent year on year, but a net loss of $212 million in the quarter due to the impact of non-cash pension items compared with earnings of $4.65 billion in the prior year. –

Additional reporting by Joseph Palenchar


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