America Movil’s Straight Talk MVNO counts 9M customers in the U.S.

Straight Talk sells services online and elsewhere. (Mike Dano/FierceWireless)

America Movil released its first-quarter earnings report (PDF) yesterday, and for the first time it offered insight into its performance in the U.S. market through its various MVNO brands. Importantly, the company said that its Straight Talk brand now counts around 9 million U.S. customers, and is leading the charge in terms of subscriber growth for the company.

America Movil, owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, offers wireless services in countries across Latin America, and in the United States it quietly operates the largest MVNO business via agreements with carriers including Verizon. At the end of the first quarter, America Movil counted fully 22.8 million U.S. wireless customers, down 8% year over year.

America Movil’s U.S. MVNO operations stretch across a variety of bands, including Straight Talk, Safelink, Tracfone, Simple Mobile, Page Plus Cellular, Net10 and others. And based on its results, it appears that Straight Talk is the company’s leading brand, having grown from around 8.8 million customers in the first quarter of last year to just over 9 million customers in the recently ended quarter.

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That’s noteworthy considering the other brand that America Movil disclosed in its quarterly earnings report, Safelink, lost more than a quarter of its subscriber base during the past year, dropping from around 5 million customers in the first quarter of 2017 to just 3.7 million customers in the first quarter of this year.

“Net disconnections in the quarter were 371 thousand,” America Movil wrote in its earnings report (PDF). “We registered disconnections of 522 thousand from SafeLink, our brand tied to the Lifeline program. Altogether, other brands reported positive additions of 151 thousand subs, compared to 100 thousand disconnections in the first quarter of last year. StraightTalk showed the best performance.”

America Movil added that, in the first quarter, its U.S. revenues grew 1% to $2 billion, and its average revenues per user grew 7.3% year over year.

Safelink’s problems in the U.S. market don’t come as much of a surprise. Safelink is the company’s Lifeline brand, and the FCC has been cracking down on Lifeline providers. In fact, The FCC is currently considering changes to its Lifeline program that would prevent wireless resellers like MVNOs from obtaining funds from the program to provide wireless services to poor people. Not surprisingly, America Movil’s Tracfone is among the companies arguing against that proposal.

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