AT&T’s 5G home internet service, called Internet Air, racked up 67,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter and helped mask the mass defection of DSL customers.
The Dallas telecommunications giant reported fourth-quarter results that also saw the addition of 273,000 fiber customers. But its overall broadband growth was only 19,000, indicating that the company lost 321,000 DSL customers.
But the rapid growth of its 5G home internet business — it more than doubled the number of customers added in the third quarter — falls in line with growing consumer interest in cord cutting 2.0, with people keen to snip the physical broadband line in favor of a wireless option. AT&T’s numbers are still far lower than its rival telecom companies, with Verizon yesterday reporting 231,000 new 5G home internet subscribers, but that’s because it had just began rolling out its service in earnest in the third quarter.
T-Mobile, which reports its results on Thursday, is expected to also post big numbers as well.
The results underscore a recent dynamic in the broadband industry, with 5G home internet representing the vast majority of growth. The last few quarters saw some cable companies lose broadband subscribers as 5G home internet picked up steam. That will likely be the case this quarter as well.
On the wireless side, AT&T added 526,000 postpaid phone net subscribers, or customers who pay at the end of the month and boast higher credit scores, but lost tablet and and prepaid customers.
AT&T posted a fourth-quarter profit of $2.19 billion, or 30 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $23.52 billion, or $3.20 a share. Excluding one-time items, per-share earnings fell to 54 cents from 61 cents a year ago. Revenue inched up 1.4% to $32 billion.
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