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AT&T adds 2.8M wireless customers, hints at big plans for DirecTV

AT&T adds 2.8M wireless customers, hints at big plans for DirecTV


AT&T's losing valuable smartphone customers, though

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Announcing its Q4 2015 earnings this afternoon, AT&T said it added 2.8 million wireless customers, though wireless-driven revenue was down compared to the year-ago quarter at $18.9 billion. AT&T is adding plenty of non-smartphone devices to its network, but it's also losing some postpaid customers, with postpaid sales dropping by 27 percent. That doesn't look so good compared to AT&T's rivals.

The company's performance fell in line with Wall Street expectations on the earnings side, with EPS (earnings per share) of 65 cents. But AT&T was slightly flat on revenue, posting $42.1 billion versus analyst aims of $42.75B.

The company boasted of strong prepaid performance (469,000 adds), tallying 1.4M for the year between Cricket and GoPhone. Those customers aren't as desirable as postpaid subscribers, but it still seems to go against T-Mobile's claims that it's winning the prepaid wars.

On the video side, 214,000 satellite video customers were added in Q4 — a strong showing for DirecTV, which AT&T paid $49 billion for. But overall video subscribers fell by 26,000, a change a spokesperson attributed to "a deliberate shift to satellite" and moving away from U-Verse, AT&T's other, older video offering. The company has tried to increase appeal around combined smartphone and satellite packages by bringing back unlimited data as an option for customers who get both services from the company. "We think we are a company with no obvious peer," CEO Randall Stephenson said during AT&T's earnings call. "This is only our first move," Stephenson said. Already, 500,000 people have signed up for the revived unlimited data plan.

Update January 26th 5:45PM ET: The article has been updated to reflect that AT&T's postpaid customers are not all smartphone users.