Record iPhone Activations Hand AT&T Unprecedented Profit

The iPhone has proven itself over and over to AT&T, the smartphones exclusive carrier in the United States.

In the third quarter, the nations second-largest wireless operator activated a record number of iPhones, which helped contribute to AT&Ts staggering $12.34 billion profit. That compares to net income of $3.19 billion a year ago, but the gains included a tax settlement and the sale of Sterling Commerce to IBM Corp. Revenue also was up, this time by 2.8 percent.

Much of the reason for the increases comes from AT&Ts efforts to affluent consumers into two-year contracts, so its set through much of 2012. In the three months ended Sept. 30, AT&T said it activated 5.2 million iPhones, or 62 percent more than the record set earlier this year. AT&T signed 745,000 net new wireless customers; all told, once the prepaid and wholesale units were considered, AT&T added 2.6 million net new connections.

In all, AT&T boasts about 17 million iPhone customers, Credit Suisse found.

Meanwhile, AT&Ts wireline business saw the expected declines. Home phone customers continue to cut the cord, even as AT&T adds high-speed Internet and U-verse TV subscribers.

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