Subscriber growth slows for U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular posted first-quarter earnings of $84.6 million, up from $70.6 million in the year-ago quarter. However, the carrier's year-on-year subscriber growth slowed to 47,000 subscribers in the quarter. The regional carrier, which operates in 26 states, saw its revenue increase slightly year-on-year, by 1.4 percent, to $1.05 billion.

The company has faced increasing challenges to its $65 per month unlimited plan from upstarts like Sprint Nextel's Boost Mobile prepaid unit, which offers a $50 per month unlimited plan that includes voice, Web surfing and texting. Regional players MetroPCS and Leap Wireless also offer cheaper plans.

Net additions: U.S. Cellular had net additions of 47,000 subscribers in the quarter, down from an increase of 73,000 in the year-ago quarter. U.S. Cellular finished the quarter with 6.24 million subscribers, up from 6.17 million in the year ago quarter and 6.19 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.  

Churn: Postpaid churn was 1.5 percent, down from 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 but up from 1.4 percent in the year-ago quarter.

ARPU: ARPU was $52.54, down from $52.71 in the fourth quarter of 2008 and up slightly from $52.24 in the year-ago quarter.

Data revenue: The carrier posted a solid 36-percent increase in data revenues, to $157 million, which accounted for 16 percent of the carrier's service revenues.

For more:
- see this article
- see this release

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