updated 09:30 am EDT, Tue April 22, 2008
ATT Q1 2008 Results
AT&T today said it had generated "strong" results for the first quarter of 2008 that it says are owed primarily to its cellphone business. The American telecoms firm earned a total of $30.7 billion over the three-month span, up 4.6 percent from the same quarter in 2007 after adjusting for marketing income related to the past BellSouth acquisition (otherwise at 6.1 percent); however, wireless income grew by about 18.3 percent over the same period and was helped by an increase in the amount spent on data features for these plans: spending on Internet access, over-the-air downloads, and messaging spiked by 57.3 percent, AT&T says. Data in various forms now accounts for as much as 21.5 percent of AT&T's cellphone income, up from 16 percent a year ago.
The company also added roughly 1.3 million extra customers for a total of 71.4 million, though it notes that this comes with a significant turnover in the number of subscribers: the gross number of customers added was 5 million, up from 4.3 million but with the same 1.7 percent churn rate, or customers leaving the service, as in 2007. This was partly increased by the decision to shut down TDMA access, dropping 330,000 customers along with the legacy phone network.
AT&T has not said how many customers were added by phone type, but the increase in data is likely supported partly by the iPhone, which in most cases requires a $20 monthly data plan as part of its service. The addition of more 3G-capable cellphones and related features is also widely understood to contribute to more data use.
The carrier also touts other data-focused services as contributing to its bottom line, including double-digit growth in DSL and U-verse landline Internet plans as well as a near-doubling in the number of subscribers to its still-small U-verse IPTV service, which now handles roughly 350,000 customers.