With over 2.7 new subscribers coming aboard, it's clear the star for AT&T in Q4 09 was wireless, driving its profits up 26 percent during the quarter.
At the same time, it's hard to ignore the performance of AT&T's wireline group. AT&T reported that while total wireline revenues of $16.2 billion declined 5.3 percent versus Q4 08, it was the smallest decline it had seen in the past four quarters.
The growth drivers of AT&T's wireline segment for the fourth quarter were again U-Verse and continued growth of strategic and IP-based services.
During the quarter, AT&T signed on an additional 248,000 new U-Verse subscribers to reach 2.1 million, a more than 1 million increase over 2008. This was the fifth quarter where AT&T added more than 240,000 new subscribers. Just the same, AT&T saw continued growth in U-Verse broadband with 267,000 new wireline subscribers in Q4 09. When this growth was combined with continued gains in standalone broadband offset the decline in DSL subscribers for a 167,000 net gain in residential wireline broadband subscribers.
On the business side, strategic business services (Ethernet, VPNs, hosting, etc) grew 17 percent over Q4 08. However, the decline in legacy voice and data networking use drove its business revenues down 5.5 percent--but only down 0.4 percent versus Q3 09. Led by 20 percent growth in VPN revenues, IP-based data business service revenue grew 7.3 percent as a result of AT&T's Frame Relay customers making the transition to IP-based data networking.