AT&T boosts full-year net on iPhone, IP services

AT&T's iPhone and IP services helped the US giant to a higher full-year profit, despite a weaker fourth-quarter result.

Full-year revenue was up 4.3% to $124 billion and net income was 7.7% higher at $12.9 billion. Q4 net fell 23% to $2.4 billion while revenues grew 2.4% to $31.1 billion.

The carrier predicted a "solid" year ahead, with growth in the "low single-digit range", mostly from wireless and IP data services.

The iPhone continues to power AT&T's numbers, with the operator predicting a "significant increase in wireless margins as the iPhone 3G customer base matures."

It activated 4.3 million iPhone devices in the second half of 2008, including 1.9 million in the fourth quarter, of which 40% were new customers.

iPhone customers helped boost wireless data revenues by 51.2% in the fourth quarter - its  12th consecutive quarter above 50%. Data accounted for 26.6% of quarterly wireless service revenues, up from 19.9% a year ago.

ARPU from iPhone subscribers was approximately 1.6 times higher and churn rates significantly lower than the operator's overall postpaid subscriber base, AT&T said.

It added 2.1 million mobile subscribers in the fourth quarter and 7 million customers in 2008 - more than any other US carrier. It now has 77 million mobile subs.