AT&T's Cingular impressive with final 4Q

In its final quarter as Cingular Wireless, the No. 1 wireless operator delivered some impressive results including 2.4 million net new subscribers (bringing its total subscriber base to 61 million) and a churn rate of 1.8 percent, down from 2.1 percent a year ago.  "Our last quarter as a joint venture operating under the Cingular name was our best ever on a variety of fronts," said Stan Sigman, Cingular president and CEO.

Beginning first quarter, the firm will no long report its results standalone but will be folded into the AT&T earnings. In addition, the company will be phasing out its Cingular brand and adopting the AT&T moniker.

Nevertheless analysts are worried about the company's dependence upon prepaid customers because they tend to be less profitable. Cingular said its resellers were very strong with prepaid sales this quarter--probably because of the holiday buying season. The company added 746,000 net prepaid customers.

Sigman used the fourth-quarter earnings call to champion the company's customer service efforts. He said that the firm has 80 percent fewer complaints today than it did at the end of 2004. In addition, Cingular has reduced its customer calling rates by 40 percent, a statistic that Sigman credits to the firm's improved network and business processes. "We've eliminated many of the reasons for customers to call," Sigman said.

For more on this:
- see the Cingular release for more stats