Verizon just announced its first quarter 2012 results, and it had yet another strong quarter. Including both the wireless and wireline business, Verizon increased diluted earnings per share by 16 percent year-over-year. Its wireless business added 734,000 new customers (including 501,000 customers on post-paid plans) and now sits at 93 million total retail wireless customers, up 5.4 percent year-over-year, and up from 92.2 million retail wireless customers last quarter. However, that's down 16.5 percent from additions a year ago (which numbered 879,000). Still, wireless retail service revenue increased 8.9 percent year-over-year to reach $14.9 billion.
Unsurprisingly, data plans continued to drive the business — data revenues were $6.6 billion in Q1, up $1.1 billion over a year ago and good for a 21.1 percent growth rate. Smartphone penetration continues to increase, as well: nearly 47 percent of customers use smartphones, up from 44 percent just one quarter ago and up from 43.5 percent a year ago. It looks like the wireless business has found a way to really push feature phone users over the edge — the massive iPhone 4S launch likely didn't hurt, either. In fact, the 3.2 million iPhones Verizon sold in Q1 counted for more than 50 percent of all smartphones sold by the carrier. This appears to be an ongoing trend; the same happened in Q4, when Verizon sold 4.3 million iPhones.
Verizon also took some time to tout its 4G LTE network, noting that it sold 2.9 million LTE devices (smartphones, tablets, or portable hotspot / data sticks). That represented a 22 percent increase over last quarter. As it stands, 8 million customers (9.1 percent of Verizon's customer base) are using LTE devices, up from 6.1 percent last quarter. Two-thirds of its customer base using LTE are using smartphones, while the other third are on tablets or data connectivity devices.
As for the wireline business, total revenue dropped two percent compared to the year-ago quarter, though Verizon says it sees "continued strong demand for FiOS services," with 193,000 net new FiOS internet connections and 180,000 net new FiOS video connections. Overall, Verizon has five million FiOS internet customers, and 4.4 million FiOS video customers, and consumer revenue managed to grow a modest 1.7 percent. Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam was bullish about his wireline business, saying that Verizon is "confident we will improve Wireline margins for the full year."