AT&T activates 3.2M iPhones in Q3, hints at end to exclusivity

Thanks to the iPhone 3GS, AT&T Mobility once again added a record number of subscribers in the third quarter of 2009. The company said that it added 2 million wireless subscribers in the quarter, bringing its total base to 81.6 million. In addition, AT&T said it activated 3.2 million iPhones, the company's largest amount to date, with nearly 40 percent of those activations from customers that were new to AT&T. 

But AT&T's exclusive deal with Apple for the iPhone in the U.S. may soon be ending. The deal has been rumored end in 2010, and AT&T Mobility chief Ralph de la Vega implied that may indeed be true. This morning during the company's conference call with analysts, de la Vega said that even if the company loses its exclusivity, he believes AT&T will still have an advantage because the carrier supports an iPhone that uses HSPA 7.2 network technology, which AT&T is in the process of deploying. "The iPhone will work better on our network than on anyone else's network," he said.

Here's a look at  AT&T's other key metrics for the quarter:

Revenues: Total wireless revenue was $13.7 billion, up 8.2 percent over the year-earlier quarter. Wireless service revenues, which exclude handset and accessory sales, were up 10 percent over the previous year's quarter to $12.4 billion.

Margins: AT&T's wireless operating income margin was 24.6 percent vs. 18.9 percent in the year-earlier quarter. Wireless OIBDA service margin was 38.5 percent, compared with 33.5 percent in the year-earlier quarter and 38.3 percent in second quarter.

Subscribers: AT&T added 2 million new subscribers for the quarter. Over the past 12 months, AT&T has managed to add a total of 6.7 million new customers. Postpaid net adds in the quarter totaled 1.4 million, up 20.1 percent vs. the same quarter a year ago.

Churn: Total churn was 1.43 percent, down from 1.69 percent in third quarter 2008. Postpaid churn was 1.17 percent, down from 1.22 percent in the year-earlier quarter.

Devices: AT&T said its postpaid 3G integrated devices totaled 4.3 million in the third quarter. AT&T defines an "integrated device" as a device that provides advanced functionality, whether that's messaging or social networking. Integrated devices have doubled on AT&T's network over the past year, and about 41.7 percent of AT&T's 63.4 million postpaid subscribers now have integrated devices. AT&T also plans to have six HSPA 7.2-compatible devices, including the iPhone 3GS, as well as two new LaptopConnect cards in its device portfolio by year-end.

Data revenues: Wireless data revenue was $3.6 billion, up from $916 million in third quarter 2008. Data now represents 29.4 percent of AT&T's third quarter service revenues, up from 24.2 percent in the year-earlier quarter.

ARPU: Postpaid average revenue per user increased 3.8 percent vs. the year-earlier quarter to $61.23. Postpaid data ARPU was $18.37, up 24 percent over third quarter 2008.

For more:
- see FierceWireless' Q3 earnings page
- see this press release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see these charts depicting AT&T's quarterly results

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