TracFone notches weaker organic subscriber growth in Q1, absent Page Plus deal

América Móvil's U.S. TracFone unit banked on its acquisition of 1.4 million subscribers from Page Plus Cellular in the first quarter for the vast majority of its customer growth. Absent the deal, TracFone added 452,000 customers organically in the quarter, weaker than in the year-ago period.

TracFone ended the first quarter with 25.511 million total wireless customers, up from the 23.659 million it had at the end of the fourth quarter, a gain of 1.85 million in total, including the Page Plus deal. In the year-ago period TracFone added 839,000 subscribers. On Jan. 16 TracFone completed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Start Wireless Group, which operated Page Plus, a Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) MVNO.

TracFone is by far the largest U.S. MVNO, and offers wireless service through several brands including TracFone, Straight Talk, Telcel America, Net10 and SafeLink. The company's Straight Talk brand is heavily promoted at Walmart.

As Phone News recently pointed out, TracFone's Straight Talk service just increased the monthly data allotment for its plans to 3 GB before speeds are throttled, up from 2.5 GB. That means that regardless which carrier powers the SIM card or device, subscribers now get 3 GB of high-speed data every month. AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) power TracFone's services in addition to Verizon.

In terms of TracFone's quarterly metrics, total revenue clocked in at $1.66 billion dollars, up 9.6 percent year-over-year, with service revenues growing 14.2 percent to $1.46 billion. TracFone said data revenues grew 23.4 percent, which contributed to a 3.5 percent increase in average revenue per user, up to $19. Churn was relatively flat at 3.8 percent.

For more:
- see this release (PDF)

Special Report: Wireless in the first quarter of 2014

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