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Americans love wireless - and AT&T too

Profits up $.7bn on last year

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AT&T's Q1'08 results show the telco, along with the American public, is becoming ever more reliant on wireless.

The company generated profits of $3.5bn in the first three months of 2008, compared to the paltry $2.85bn in the same period last year, on sales up 6.1 per cent to $30.7bn. Wireless is driving that growth, as the market for traditional voice calls is contracting.

AT&T pulled in $9.7bn revenues from voice calls, over fixed lines, a drop of more than seven per cent on same Q last year's total of $10.5bn, though the company points out that this revenue is more than recovered through broadband and Advanced TV subscriptions: more than 14.6 million of the former, and 379,000 of the latter, to date.

But the company really shone in wireless, with data revenue up 18.3 per cent to $2.3bn coming from 71.4 million subscribers. This is a net increase of 1.3 million over the previous quarter.

Churn remains at just 1.7 per cent, a figure for which most European operators would give their right arm, and AT&T is now making 21.5 per cent of its wireless revenues from data - up from 16 per cent last year and very comparable to European levels. AT&T's US exclusive for Apple's iPhone must have helped here.

That data figure includes text messaging: 44 billion texts and 620 million multimedia messages were sent in the first three months of 2008, doubling last year's totals as Americans come to love texting, almost as much as they apparently love AT&T.

AT&T made sure its earning report would shine, by shovelling out some bad stuff last week. In an SEC filing, the company said it would axe about 1.5 per cent of its employees, mostly in the landline home phone business. ®

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