AT&T added well over a quarter-million AT&T U-verse TV subscribers in its first quarter of 2009, grew its wireless business – driven by the unwaning popularity of Apple’s iPhone – and increased data revenue across wireless, residential and business services.
Revenue still slipped a bit, however, as did the company’s profit. The company blamed the economy, which did nothing to alleviate the continuing declines in wireline voice access lines and business voice revenues.
AT&T reported a net increase of 284,000 U-verse TV customers to reach 1.3 million in service. Add in customers getting video through the company’s partnership with DirecTV, and AT&T had a total of 3.5 million video subscribers at the end of the first quarter.
On the broadband side, AT&T added 471,000 connections. That number lumps together AT&T’s numbers for U-verse (284,000 Internet connections), 3G wireless data connections (about 112,000) and DSL (about 75,000). AT&T reports that its total for broadband connections reached 16.7 million.
The overall number of wireless subscriber adds was 1.2 million. AT&T’s iPhone 3G activations totaled more than 1.6 million, more than 40 percent of them for customers new to the company. AT&T’s U.S. iPhone exclusive continues to deliver a subscriber pool with an ARPU that is approximately 1.6 times higher, and churn rates that are significantly lower, than the company's overall postpaid subscriber base.
For more than a year, the company’s revenue has been essentially flat within a few hundred million dollars of $31 billion – $30.7 billion a year ago in Q1 ’08, growing to $31.1 billion in Q4 ’08, and slipping a bit to $30.6 billion in the just-completed Q1 ’09. Net income was $3.1 billion, compared with $3.5 billion in the similar period a year ago.
In a conference call with analysts, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the company “had some impact in gross sales from new offerings in the marketplace.” AT&T will be testing some new, low-cost plans in select markets, he said, but would proceed with caution: “We’ll be very careful not to do something that could cannibalize our post-paid base; that’s really where our bread and butter is.”
Capital expenditures totaled $3.4 billion.
– Wireless Week’s Maisie Ramsey contributed to this report