A look at telecom-industry subscriber reports
Telecommunications companies have begun releasing their earnings reports for the latest quarter. Here is a summary of reports for selected telecommunications companies and what they reveal about their own and the industry's prospects.
— Oct. 18: Verizon Communications Inc.'s wireless division added a net 1.5 million devices to contract-based plans in the third quarter, more than it has in many years. Analysts were expecting it to add about 900,000. Including non-contract devices, overall additions were the strongest in four years. Verizon Wireless got a boost from its new Share Everything plan, which made it cheaper for households to add wireless service to tablets and laptops.
The launch of the iPhone 5 at the end of the quarter also helped Verizon's numbers. It activated 650,000 units of the new model in just over a week. It activated 3.1 million iPhones of all kinds in the quarter, accounting for 46 percent of its total smartphone activations.
— Oct. 24: AT&T Inc. says it added a net 151,000 new customers on contract-based plans from July through September, the lowest number for that period since at least 2003. AT&T blamed short supplies of the iPhone 5, which launched a week before the end of the quarter. AT&T said the shortage of iPhones meant that most of them went to people who were already AT&T customers. But that didn't hold back Verizon Wireless, which reported adding 10 times as many contract-signing customers as AT&T did.
— Oct. 25: Sprint Nextel Corp. says it lost an overall 423,000 subscribers in the July-to-September period, as trends across its product lineup were weak. Excluding recaptured Nextel customers, it lost contract-signing subscribers from the Sprint network for the first time in years. Customers on contract-based plans are the most lucrative, and keeping them has been a linchpin of CEO Dan Hesse's turnaround plan. For non-contract plans, the company added just 19,000 customers, the smallest number in more than three years.
— Oct. 26: Comcast Corp. says it gained a net 123,000 voice customers, beating the 116,000 gain expected.
— Oct. 30: MetroPCS Communications Inc. says it lost about 312,000 subscribers to end with 9 million.
— Monday: Time Warner Cable Inc. says the number of residential voice subscribers was unchanged at 5 million.
— Wednesday: Leap Wireless International Inc. says it lost 239,000 voice customers in the quarter.
— Thursday: Deutsche Telekom AG says its T-Mobile USA business gained prepaid customers but lost 492,000 contract customers, a result the company called "unsatisfactory."
Note: T-Mobile and MetroPCS have reached a deal to combine their cellphone businesses, but they will report separately until the deal is completed.