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AT&T Adds 2.7 Mln Wireless Users in Fourth Quarter

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Mobile operator AT&T has released its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2009, and the company beat expectations by adding a 2.7 million new wireless users to its customer rolls—and one million of those come from users of non-phone mobile devices like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Sony Reader. The subscriber gain is the second highest quarterly net increase in subscribers in the company’s history. AT&T also claimed its lowest ever subscriber churn levels: 1.19 percent for post-paid subscribers and 1.44 percent total.

“We had a solid 2009 and led the industry in the biggest growth driver—mobile broadband,” said AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, in a statement. “Looking ahead, customer demand for connectivity, particularly mobile broadband and IP data, continues to be strong, and AT&T is well positioned at the center of this growth.”

During the quarter, AT&T says it activated another 3.1 million Apple iPhones in the United States, marking the second highest quarter on record for iPhone activation—and AT&T says fully one third of those customers are new to the carrier. No one is sure how long AT&T will have a lock on the iPhone in the U.S. market—many iPhone users have expressed discontent with 3G availability and delay in services like MMS and tethering—but Apple has recently expressed confidence that AT&T will bring its network up to speed, and AT&T will apparently be the exclusive 3G wireless provider for the forthcoming iPad. However, Apple has broken iPhone exclusivity with carriers in several international markets.

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