Verizon adds 1.6M net customers in 1Q, but postpaid growth slows

Verizon Wireless (NASDAQ: VZ) may finally be seeing a slowdown in its postpaid subscriber growth. During its first quarter earnings call with investors this morning, the company reported it added 1.6 million net new customers in the first quarter of 2010, bringing its total subscriber base to 92.8 million. However, it noted that just 423,000 retail postpaid customers were added in the quarter; the firm's biggest growth came from its 1.3 million reseller customers.

Verizon's wireless statsNevertheless, Verizon CFO John Killian said the company is not ready to concede that postpaid growth will be substantially lower going forward. "We believe there is still strength in postpaid," he said. 

Here's a rundown of the other key metrics:

Revenue: Verizon Wireless total revenue was $15.8 billion, up 4.4 percent year over year.    

Subscribers: Verizon continued to emphasize its postpaid retail subscribers--it had 87.8 million retail customers at the end of the quarter. Despite a decline in postpaid retail subscriber growth, Killian said there has been no shift in market share or porting ratios or increased churn. He emphasized that the company is still bullish on postpaid opportunities and believes that its strong smartphone lineup coupled with differentiated services such as Skype Mobile will continue to attract and retain high-value customers.

Connected devices: For the first time, Verizon revealed that it has 7.3 million "other" wireless connections, which it defines as machine-to-machine, ereaders and telematics. However, the company did not say how many connected devices it added in the quarter.

Churn: Retail postpaid churn was 1.07 percent. Total churn was 1.46 percent.

Data:  Data revenue was up 26.4 percent to $4.5 billion, and exceeded 33 percent of Verizon's service revenue. This is an increase from 27.9 percent in the first quarter of 2009. During the first quarter, Verizon Wireless customers sent or received 175 billion text messages and 4.4 billion picture or video messages.

Devices: In the quarter, 30 percent of retail postpaid subscribers had 3G devices, 17 percent had smartphones and 13 percent had multimedia devices.

During the call, investors asked about Verizon's plans to compete against a potential new iPhone that will likely be launched this summer. Killian said the company will continue to emphasize its smartphones, including those featuring the Google Android operating system. "We have several different devices coming, including the HTC Incredible," he said.

For more:
- see this press release
- see Verizon's wireless stats
- see the FierceWireless Q1 earnings page

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