Verizon Wireless posted a stellar first quarter as its earnings were buoyed by the launch of the iPhone in February and the introduction of its first LTE smartphone, the HTC Thunderbolt, in mid-March.
The company sold 2.2 million iPhones during the last seven weeks of the first quarter, about one-fifth of which were customers new to Verizon. The iPhone 4 produced the most successful first-day sales in Verizon Wireless’ history when it hit shelves in February.
More than 260,000 Thunderbolts were activated in the first two weeks the device was on sale, accounting for more than half of the 500,000 LTE-capable devices Verizon sold during the first quarter.
“Out of the gate, we’re very happy with the volume and we think this will continue as we launch more 4G devices in the coming weeks,” Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said in an earnings call Thursday morning.
Shammo said 54 percent of Verizon’s net customer additions came from the iPhone and HTC Thunderbolt alone.
AT&T said yesterday it added 3.6 million iPhones during the first quarter, but the company sold the device throughout the first quarter instead of just the last seven weeks as Verizon did, making it difficult to draw apples-to-apples comparisons between the two companies’ sales.
Verizon’s overall profits, including its wireline division, more than tripled in the first quarter to $1.4 billion on sales of $26.9 billion.
On the wireless side, Verizon’s added 906,000 net new postpaid customers, more than double the number of subscribers it added last year. The company lost 27,000 prepaid customers, bringing its total retail net adds to 879,000. Verizon also added 897,000 new customers in its wholesale and other connections category, comprised of M2M devices and other connected devices.
Verizon’s subscriber base now stands at 104 million connections, including 88.4 million retail customers and 15.6 million wholesale and other connections. At the end of the first quarter, 32 percent of Verizon Wireless’ retail postpaid customers used smartphones, up from 28 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. Verizon ultimately expects to have at least half of its customers on smartphones.
Postpaid churn improved over last year to 1.01 percent, and total churn came in at 1.33 percent. Postpaid ARPU grew slightly to $53.52 on an increase in postpaid data revenue, which rose 17 percent to $20.51.
Shammo said Verizon is on track to have LTE service available in 175 markets by the end of the year, covering 185 million people.
Shammo provided a few comments on AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA, saying the company would fight attempts by the government to impose additional regulations as a result of the merger.