AT&T has announced their fourth quarter earnings
, indicating that they saw $3.02 billion in net income on the quarter, up from $2.4 billion last year. As with Verizon, wireless growth continues to explode, the carrier adding 2.7 million wireless subscribers on the quarter, bringing AT&T's wireless subscriber total to 85.1 million. Despite consistently falling toward the bottom of most wireless customer satisfaction surveys
, AT&T continues to see the lowest churn (customer defection) rates in the industry, which may speak more to iPhone exclusivity and long term contracts than it does to service and support quality.
Still, AT&T's wireless growth is very impressive, and the carrier is quickly catching up to Verizon (91.2 million subscribers, 1.2 million new customers last quarter). Last year saw AT&T add 7.3 million net subscribers, compared to Verizon's 4.6 million. More subscribers means more money, and AT&T's wireless data revenue blossomed 26.3 percent in the fourth quarter to $3.9 billion.
As for complaints of AT&T's 3G network performance, the carrier continues to insist they're doing everything in their power to resolve congestion and coverage issues. "Our leadership in mobile broadband will continue to set us apart as we roll out even faster 3G speeds this year and begin deploying 4G capabilities in 2011," insists AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.
The carrier's investor presentation included slides (above) claiming they've made huge quality progress in markets like New York and San Francisco. After taking heat in 2009 for not putting enough of their surging revenues back into the network, the carrier says they'll boost CAPEX for 2010 (to between $18 billion and $19 billion), including $2 billion for additional backhaul.
On the wireline front, AT&T says they've added 248,000 U-Verse TV subscribers, and now serve 2.1 million U-Verse customers. Like Verizon, AT&T is slowly bleeding traditional DSL subscribers and copper-based phone customers, many of whom are in un-upgraded markets and are flocking to cable bundles. Still, U-Verse's growth offset these losses. Including Laptop Connect, 3G, DSL and U-Verse customers, AT&T serves 17.3 million broadband subscribers.