AT&T adds 2.1M subs; wireless revenue up

AT&T saw its fourth-quarter profits fall 24 percent despite growth in wireless subscribers and revenue. AT&T Mobility added 2.1 million net new subscribers in the quarter. The company reported quarterly earnings of $2.4 billion, down from $3.14 billion in the fourth quarter last year. Profits in the wireless business rose 39 percent, boosted by a 13 percent jump in revenue to $12.9 billion.

Net adds: The carrier added 2.1 million net subscribers in the quarter, with retail postpaid subscriber growth of 1.3 million. AT&T finished the year with 77 million subscribers, slightly lower than than Verizon Wireless' 80 million subscribers. The carrier had 1.9 million iPhone 3G activations in the quarter, and around 760,000 of those were new AT&T customers.  

Churn for the fourth quarter was 1.6 percent, down from 1.7 percent in both the third quarter of 2008 and the fourth quarter of 2007. Postpaid churn was 1.2 percent, flat from both the third quarter of 2008 and the year-ago quarter.

Total postpaid ARPU for the quarter was $59.59, up 3.9 percent from the year-ago quarter and slightly from $58.99 in the third quarter of 2008.

Wireless data revenue jumped 51.2 percent over the year-ago quarter to $3.1 billion, making it the 12th consecutive quarter with wireless data revenue growth above 50 percent. Data revenue made up 26.6 percent of AT&T's fourth quarter wireless service revenues, up from 19.9 percent in the year-ago quarter.

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