AT&T activates record 3.2 million iPhones, with 27% new accounts

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The iPhone single-handedly brought 860,000 new customers last quarter to wireless provider AT&T, the exclusive carrier of Apple's handset in the U.S.

AT&T announced its quarterly earnings Thursday morning, and revealed that it had earned $30.8 billion in revenue in its second fiscal quarter, amounting to $0.61 earnings per share. Helping the company to those numbers was Apple's iPhone, of which the carrier activated a record 3.2 million in the three-month period.

AT&T said that 27 percent of those 3.2 million iPhone activations were from new customers, which means the device brought 860,000 new subscribers to the carrier. Last quarter was bolstered by the launch of the iPhone 4, of which Apple sold 1.7 million in the first three days internationally.

The ratio of new customers is lower than the previous quarter, when AT&T activated 2.7 million iPhones, of which more than a third were new subscribers.

AT&T again noted that iPhone 4 preorder rates were 10 times higher than the first day of preordering for the iPhone 3GS in 2009.

AT&T's earnings per share were up 25.9 percent from the same period in 2009, and revenue increased $194 million, or 0.6 percent. The earnings per share beat Wall Street expectations, while revenue was lower than anticipated.

The iPhone helped AT&T reach 1.6 million net adds in total wireless subscribers, which was the company's best-ever second quarter. AT&T now has 90.1 million customers in service.

Wireless revenues increased 10.3 percent, and postpaid average monthly revenues per subscriber were up 3.4 percent. Wireless data revenues grew even greater, up $936 million over 2009, for 27.2 percent year-over-year growth.

"We delivered another strong quarter, with improved revenue trends, double-digit earnings growth and solid cash flow. These results add to our confidence going into the second half of the year," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer. "We continue to see positive signs of growth in almost every customer segment of our business, especially wireless, which speaks to the quality of our execution and our leadership in the industry's most powerful growth driver — mobile broadband. I am excited by the opportunities ahead."