AT&T Reports Drop In Numbers For New Subscribers
October 24, 2012

AT&T Reports Drop In Numbers For New Subscribers

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

While AT&T is still seeing growth, its numbers are slowing down, making it harder to catch up to rival Verizon Wireless.

The wireless company said on Wednesday that it added 151,000 new customers on contract-based plans from July through September. Although a six-digit number seems great, it is the lowest number for that period since at least 2003.

Reuters reported that five analysts had predicted the company gained 358,000 new subscribers during the quarter. Verizon Wireless gained 1.5 million new subscribers.

AT&T says it blames short supplies of the iPhone 5 for the lackluster figure, despite Verizon Wireless adding 10 times as many contract-signing customers as AT&T with the same shortages.

The Dallas-based company said the shortage of iPhones meant that most of them went to people who were already AT&T customers.

Just 18 percent of the 4.7 million iPhones activated in the quarter were new customers. This was AT&T's lowest iPhone activation figure yet.

However, Apple said yesterday during its iPad Mini launch event that it sold more than 5 million units during the iPhone 5's first weekend, which was the most phones ever sold in an opening weekend for any company.

AT&T's other excuse it gave is that it launched its new data-sharing plans later in the quarter than competitor Verizon did. Verizon launched its "Share Everything" plan just before the start of the quarter, where as AT&T waited until August.

Not all was a loss this quarter for AT&T. The company's quarterly net income was $3.64 billion, which was nearly unchanged from $3.62 billion the previous year.

Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said revenue for business services dropped 2.6 percent in the quarter, due to a slowdown in government spending and an unwillingness by companies to spend cash due to uncertain tax policies.