NEW YORK (AP) — ATT Inc. is gaining new wireless subscribers at the lowest rate in eight years. The number of people joining the network through resellers and non-phone devices, like the Kindle and GPS navigation systems, dropped sharply in the first quarter.
The largest telecommunications company in the U.S. says it gained a net total of 726,000 wireless subscribers in the first quarter. That’s less than a third of the number of subscribers added in the same period last year.
In the quarter, old contract-based plan customers departed faster than ATT could recruit new customers. Contract-based plans are the most lucrative for a phone company, and the number of new customers is an important measure of growth.
ATT gained a net 187,000 customers on contract-based plans in the January to March period, but these were essentially all tablet users, brought in by the launch of the new iPad in March. Tablet customers pay between $15 and $50 per month, whereas smartphone customers often pay more than $100.
Weak subscriber figures are usually good for a phone company’s earnings in the short term, since it doesn’t have to subsidize new devices.
The Dallas-based company’s net income for the January to March period was $3.6 billion, or 60 cents per share, up 5 percent from $3.4 billion, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts polled by FactSet were on average expecting earnings of 57 cents per share for the latest quarter
Revenue was $31.8 billion, up 2 percent from a year earlier. It matched analyst expectations.
ATT shares rose 54 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $31.15 in premarket trading. The shares are close to a four-year high of $31.97 hit a month ago.R Soft Web Hosting