Verizon Soars Past AT&T in Postpaid Subscriber Gains

Verizon Communications on Thursday revealed its wireless unit activated 2.2 million iPhones in the first quarter and wooed 906,000 retail postpaid customers, far exceeding its chief competitor AT&T in the number of new subscribers that are locked into a retail contract.

Excluding acquisitions and adjustments, Verizon Wireless added 1.8 million connections, bringing to 104 million the total number of connections that the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based mobile operator now serves. Verizon also announced that it activated more than 500,000 fourth-generation wireless devices in the quarter. Roughly 260,000 HTC Thunderbolt smartphones were activated in just a two-week period.   

Verizon Wireless, which produced the most successful first-day sales in its history when it began selling the iPhone 4 in February, now serves 88.4 million retail customers and 15.6 million wholesale and other connections.

Some analysts were anticipating that Verizons largest rival, AT&T, would post poor wireless results after losing its exclusive right to sell the iPhone in the United States.

But AT&T managed to activate 3.6 million iPhones and add two million subscribers in the first quarter.  However, only 62,000 of AT&Ts new customers were on retail contracts.

Although Verizons anticipated iPhone sales created a buzz in recent months, AT&T made a bigger splash during the quarter when it announced plans to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in a transaction that would knock out one of the nations largest mobile operators.

If the merger is approved by regulators, AT&T and Verizon Wireless would control about 80 percent of all wireless subscribers in the United States.

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