Friday, January 28, 2011

AT&T Back to #1

The latest customer numbers puts AT&T in the top spot among wireless carriers with over 95.5 million customers. Verizon reported increased numbers, but not as many, at only 94.1 million. It was just a couple weeks ago we started recommending AT&T as one of our networks of choice. Coincidence? Well, yes, because these are 4th quarter numbers.

While there may be some champagne corks popping at some AT&T offices somewhere, the investment community is not quite so excited. There are those who see AT&T about to tumble from their lofty heights and Verizon to jump up and over the 100 million customer mark. This expected switch in the lead is based on the impending arrival of the Apple iPhone to Verizon Wireless next month. There is a significant and passionate group of AT&T customers who can't wait to jump the AT&T ship and join the network with what they believe to have the better coverage. And Verizon will do what they can to make the transition easy.

AT&T has been quietly issuing a few "our network's better than theirs" notices, and there have been several articles published about the downsides of switching from AT&T to Verizon. Count us as among those who advise you to wait. But there's a group who just doesn't care...they want out.

Then there are those who were overjoyed to finally be able to get the iPhone after being converted from Alltel to AT&T, only to find the coverage not as good as it was with Alltel, primarily from the loss of Verizon (and all other CDMA carriers) as a roaming partner. For them, a Verizon iPhone may be the happier path to wireless nirvana.

So, let AT&T enjoy their #1 position. After all, it's easier to aim at a higher target.


Anonymous said...

But it's not that clear-cut. Just days earlier, Verizon Wireless reported that its fourth quarter net adds were 955,000, bringing its total subscriber base to 94.1 million. But if you look closely at Verizon's numbers, you will see that Verizon and AT&T are not counting subscribers the same way. Verizon said that it had 8.1 million "other connections," which it defines as machine-to-machine and telematics. And if you add that 8.1 million to its 94.1 million traditional wireless subscribers, the company has a total wireless connection base of 102.2 million as of year-end.

Oz Andrews said...

Indeed, the 2 carriers are not really comparing apples to apples. AT&T is facing a potential near-term subscriber drop, but it could result in a better network for them. 3 of the Big 4 networks are actively pitching a wireless solution to our nation's Smart Grid development which could change the numbers dramatically without adding a single new handset to their networks.