US operator AT&T today reported Q3 earnings that were broadly flat from a year ago as the firm added fewer lucrative contract customers than expected.
The US number-two said that postpaid net additions were impacted by shortages of Apple’s new iPhone 5, which resulted in the majority of third-quarter iPhone sales going to existing customers, where it said there was “considerable pent-up demand.”
It recorded postpaid net adds of 151,000 in Q3, well below an average expectation for 358,000, according to analyst polling by Reuters. Total mobile subscribers increased by 678,000 to reach 105.9 million.
AT&T sold 6.1 million smartphones in the quarter, activating 4.7 million iPhones and having its "best-ever sales quarter" for Android and Windows smartphones.
Smartphones represented 81 percent of postpaid device sales, and are now used by 63.8 percent, or 44.5 million, of AT&T's postpaid subscribers, up from 52.6 percent, or 36.1 million, a year earlier.
“We had another excellent smartphone quarter, penetration of usage-based mobile data plans continues to climb, and our 4G LTE network build is ahead of schedule,” said CEO Randall Stephenson.
AT&T's net income inched forward to US$3.64 billion from US$3.62 billion a year earlier. Total revenue fell slightly to US$31.46 billion from US$31.48 billion. The year-earlier period had been boosted by the sale of the firm’s Advertising Solutions business.
Wireless revenue was up 6.6 percent to US$16.6 billion, while fixed-line revenue was down 1.6 percent to US$14.8 billion.