Verizon activates 4.2M iPhones in Q4, warns of margin decline

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Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) activated 4.2 million Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and 2.2 million LTE devices in the fourth quarter. Both figures are significantly higher than past quarters in 2011. However, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo also noted that the carrier will likely see its profit margins decline 5 percent to 6 percent from the third quarter, likely on higher device subsidy costs.  

Speaking at the Citi Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference, Shammo also said that the company activated 10.7 million iPhones in 2011, just shy of the company's goal of activating 11 million iPhones during the year. Verizon activated 2.2 million iPhones in the first quarter, 2.3 million in the second quarter and 2 million in third quarter.

The 2.2 million LTE device activations are the most Verizon has had in a quarter since the company launched LTE service in December 2010. The company added 500,000 LTE devices in the first quarter, 1.2 million in the second quarter and 1.4 million in the fourth quarter. Shammo did not provide a detailed breakdown for Verizon's LTE device activations, but the numbers were likely helped by new LTE smartphones Verizon launched in the quarter, including the HTC Rezound, the Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Droid Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Verizon's LTE network, which now covers 200 million POPs, was also likely aided by its LTE data promotion, the double data offer. Introduced at the beginning of November, the double data offer, which ends Jan. 15, gives new LTE smartphone subscribers double the data the carrier previously offered (4 GB of LTE data for $30, instead of 2 GB, for example). Verizon's LTE network was marred by three separate outages in December due to issues with the company's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture.

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