Verizon iPhone: Big Churn Rate for AT&T Predicted

AT&T surpassed Verizon Wireless last quarter as the No. 1 mobile operator in the United States. That might not last very long.

Many of AT&Ts subscribers are preparing to ditch their provider in the near term, according to at least one source. ChangeWave, a market research firm, estimated that the percentage of AT&T subscribers who plan to switch to another operator in the next 90 days is at an all-time high of 15 percent.

That is an extraordinary number of anticipated subscriber defections considering AT&T reported postpaid churn of only 1.15 percent in the fourth quarter.

Thanks to Verizon Wireless recent partnership with Apple to carry the iPhone, speculation has mounted over the number of AT&T subscribers who will leave the company.

Verizon Wireless released the iPhone 4 last week, but it could take several months to evaluate the announcements collective impact on AT&T. We posted a handful of reasons last week as to why the switch to Verizon might be slow to take shape.

Hudson Square Research analyst Daniel Ernst said the majority of Verizon Wireless new iPhone subscribers are current Verizon customers, and he found in a study that only 6 percent of respondents confirmed they switched from AT&T to Verizon in order to get the iPhone, reported.

AT&T, however, may face additional pressure next year. In a research note last month, Goldman Sachs said it expected AT&Ts subscriber losses to accelerate in 2012 as iPhone customers come to the end of their contracts.  Goldman Sachs expects AT&T to lose 400,000 postpaid subscribers this year and more than 1 million customers in 2012.

In the fourth quarter, AT&T surpassed Verizon Wireless as the nations largest mobile operator with 95.5 million customers.  Verizon Wireless serves 94.1 million customers.

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