Verizon Claims Q3 Wireless Supremacy

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) reported that its net earnings had been boosted by good wireless growth from Verizon Wireless in the third quarter. Verizon now claims that its wireless arm is number one in the U.S. -- in terms of revenues -- although Cingular Wireless still has it beat on subscriber numbers.

Excluding one time items, the second-largest phone company in the U.S. posted income of $2 billion, or 68 cents per share, compared with $1.8 billion, or 66 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue was $23.3 billion, up from $18.5 billion 12 months ago.

Verizon Wireless, the firm's joint venture with Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), reported revenues of $9.9 billion. It added 1.9 million new subscribers in the quarter. This is the largest subscriber growth this quarter reported by any of the big three operators in the U.S.

In comparison, Cingular added 1.4 million new subs in the third quarter of 2006, while third-ranked Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) limped in with only 233,000 new customers. (See Cingular's Subs-stantial Quarter and Cingular's Subs-stantial Quarter.)

Driven by faster 3G services, Verizon says that its wireless data revenues now represent 14.1 percent of total wireless service revenues. The operator broke $1 billion in wireless data revenues for the first time last quarter.

Verizon's major rivals on the wired and wireless side -- the soon-to-be merged AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS) -- also saw results significantly boosted by their wireless joint venture (Cingular) this quarter. (See Ma Bell Loves Mobile.) The dominant position of these massive telecoms operators is leading some analysts to suggest that smaller rivals like Sprint may have trouble keeping pace.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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