AT&T Misses on Revenue As Phones Kept Longer by Customers

AT&T Inc.’s revenue for the quarter came up short of estimates on Wall Street because of lower sales of equipment as customers kept their handsets longer and other wireless carriers offered promotions for unlimited data plans, said the No. 2 wireless carrier in the U.S. on Tuesday.

AT&T said it had lost over 191,000 of its postpaid subscribers in the U.S. during the first three months of 2017. Those are customers who pay their bills monthly.

AT&T as well as Verizon Communications the industry leaders are battling with T-Mobile and Sprint Corp for a bigger share of the market in a wireless market in the U.S. that has matured where the majority of consumers in the country already have their cellphones.

Last Thursday, Verizon posted its first ever loss of subscribers for a quarter.

The unlimited data plans have become the most recent industry incentives to attract customers. During February, Verizon jumped into the fray with others in offering the unlimited data plans, which was the first time in more than five years.

Sprint and T-Mobile also offered the unlimited plans and AT&T lowered its price on its plan.

AT&T CEO Randell Stephenson said the new unlimited plans made the competitive market that much more competitive and the company’s response to that was slow.

AT&T and rival Verizon have been buying assets that both need for the next-generation 5G network, that will have faster downloads as well as applications that will enable autonomous vehicles.

Verizon bid to acquire Straight Path Communications, said a source, and its bid topped an earlier one by AT&T which started a bidding war for the business that is holding spectrum used in the upcoming 5G networks.

AT&T had total operating revenue that fell close to 3% to just over $39.4 billion. The drop was due in a large part to sales that were record low for its wireless handsets.

Attributable net income to AT&T reached $3.47 billion equal to 56 cents per share, which was down from one year ago for the same period of $3.8 billion equal to 61 cents per share.

Excluding certain items, per share earnings matched estimates of analysts of 74 cents. Revenue however came up short as it was estimated to be $40.52 billion.

In addition, AT&T said it would not give a revenue forecast for the full year any longer because of the unpredictability of sales of wireless handsets.

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