AT&T adds most iPhones in a single quarter

Carrier sees slight dip in revenues for Q3, soaring wireless data growth

AT&T Inc. said today it activated 3.2 million iPhones in the third quarter, its best-ever for a quarter, adding that nearly 40% of those iPhone activations were for new subscribers to the wireless carrier.

The iPhone activations during the three-month period that ended Sept. 30 were out of 4.3 million integrated devices the carrier activated, showing that the iPhone continues to be a major contributor to the carrier's success -- even during a bad recession. More than 40 million iPhones have shipped globally, and the device has been a boon to Apple's bottom line.

Overall, wireless data revenues soared by 34% for the quarter compared to a year earlier, reaching $3.6 billion. That's compared to $30 billion in revenues for the entire company in the third quarter, a drop of 1.6% from third quarter of 2008, but up slightly from the prior quarter, the company said in a statement today.

Executives planned to discuss the financial data during a morning earnings call. But in a statement before the call, CEO Randall Stephenson said AT&T "delivered a terrific wireless quarter" with strong IP data growth. "As the economy works to regain its footing, we are keenly focused on cost improvement as well as continued leadership and investment in key areas that will drive future growth."

The growth in wireless and IP data largely offset economic pressures lowering wired voice demand and other legacy data products for consumers and businesses, AT&T said.

About two million wireless subscribers were added in the third quarter as well. That number includes pre-paid subscribers and post-paid subscribers, with the total of post-paids up 1.4 million. At the same time, wireless monthly subscriber churn, or turnover, reached a record low of 1.43 % for the quarter, down from 1.69 % in the year-ago quarter.

Wireless subscriber totals rose to 81.6 million, an increase of 6.7 million in the past year, the carrier said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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