AT&T Earnings Could Be Last to Reflect Big iPhone Gains

This week, AT&T reported earnings from the forth quarter of 2010 – the last full quarter in which the wireless carrier will enjoy iPhone exclusivity in the United States. During Q4, AT&T generated consolidated revenues of $31.4 billion – up $653 million, or 2.1 percent, when compared to the year-earlier period.

AT&T also saw a 27.4 percent spike in wireless data revenues – up $1.1 billion versus the year-earlier quarter.

With regard to tablet revenues, AT&T added 442,000 iPad- and Android-based tablets to its network, with more than 90 percent of them booked to the prepaid category.

Perhaps most important, however, AT&T activated 4.1 million iPhones during the 4th quarter of 2010. As a result, Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, said his company’s earnings were “strong” and indicative of how AT&T’s mobile broadband growth “set the pace for the industry.”

Industry analysts, of course, aren’t as optimistic about the carrier’s future – particularly with regard to 2011 iPhone activations on AT&T.

Stephenson said during AT&T’s earnings call that the carrier is poised to grow profits further in the US as the economic turmoil of recent years has subsided. But AT&T may ultimately have bigger problems than a recession. The Verizon iPhone debuts next week. And it’s going to hurt AT&T, although no one yet knows how badly.

Nonetheless, AT&T remains confident in its forthcoming slate of additions and improvements to its wireless network, like the expansion of 4G speeds, accelerating its LTE deployment plans, and the roll out of twenty new 4G-capable devices to the company’s smartphone lineup.