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T-Mobile can't hold back AT&T from blockbuster profits

Churn is down, but AT&T wasn't able to match rival T-Mobile in the new subscriber category. 

By Matthew ShaerCorrespondent / January 29, 2014

AT&T posted strong Q4 2013 numbers.

Reuters

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AT&T added 809,000 new mobile subscribers in the last three months of 2013, the Dallas-based wireless provider announced yesterday. 

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Of those new customers, 566,000 were contract subscribers, the most lucrative variety. In addition, as BGR notes, AT&T posted a relatively low 1.11 percent "churn" rate, a measure of the number of customers that move to other carriers. The strong results helped boost AT&T's quarterly revenue to a healthy $33.2 billion. 

"The next steps are to make our networks even more powerful and layer on services that will drive new growth in the years ahead," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement. "We have good momentum in areas like connected car, home automation and mobile business solutions. We’re also committed to transforming our operations to make them more responsive and efficient." 

Of course, as Jeff Gamet of MacObserver points out, while the activation figures from AT&T are impressive, they're actually lower than the 780,000 contract subscribers AT&T added in Q4 of 2012, "and well below T-Mobile's 869,000 new subscribers."

T-Mobile, which has long lagged behind Verizon and AT&T in US market share, recently began allowing customers to sign up for a smart phone plan without opting into a two-year contract. This "uncarrier" strategy, as T-Mobile has dubbed, has paid huge dividends for the company – reps for T-Mobile say Q4 of 2013 was its best financial quarter in eight years. 

Thumbing his nose at his rivals, T-Mobile CEO John Legere recently said that "AT&T is a total source of amusement for me. These are fat cats that can’t move." 

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