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Straight Talk MVNO TracFone adds 302,000 subs in Q3

Subscriber grwoth slows from year-ago period
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América Móvil's U.S. MVNO, TracFone, posted net subscriber gains in the quarter of 302,000, weaker than in the year-ago period. However, the company's revenue and earnings rose. 

TracFone's subscriber gains for the quarter are significantly lower than the 515,000 customers it added in the third quarter of 2011. In the year-ago period TracFone's Straight Talk service started offering the Samsung Galaxy Precedent, its first Android-based device. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) was the underlying network for that device and other Straight Talk Android devices as well, though T-Mobile USA has also offered support for Android-based Straight Talk devices. TracFone also resells service on the networks of Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T).

At 21.6 million customers, TracFone remains the largest U.S. MVNO. The company's subscriber base has been augmented by the acquisition of T-Mobile MVNO Simple Mobile, in a deal that closed earlier this year and netted TracFone 1.1 million extra customers. 

During the quarter TracFone's total revenue jumped 28.6 percent to close to $1.28 billion, up from $992 million in the year-ago period. The unit's EBITDA soared 72.3 percent, up to $190 million from $110 million in the year-ago quarter, as its EBITDA margin grew to 14.9 percent from 11.1 percent.

In addition to Straight Talk, which offers prepaid unlimited plans for $45 per month, TracFone also operates the Net10 brand and SafeLink, which leverages the government's Lifeline program to provide wireless services to low-income Americans. TracFone said average revenue per user climbed to $18 from $16 a year ago, and that churn fell to 3.9 percent from 4.2 percent.

For more:
- see this release (PDF)

Special Report: Wireless in the third quarter of 2012

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