AT&T grows by 1.9 million connections, many of which were cars

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Credit: Gigaom / Kevin Fitchard

AT&T posted yet another strong quarter for new connections, but unlike previous periods this fourth quarter was driven (pun intended) largely by cars. Of its 1.9 million net subscriber additions, 800,000 were vehicles giving yet another indication that AT&T is locking down the 4G car connectivity market.

Ma Bell didn’t do too shabbily in other areas either. The carrier saw its postpaid customer base grow by 854,000, which included 148,000 new smartphone connections and nearly 1 million new tablet data subscriptions. It lost 180,000 prepaid subscribers and 65,000 wholesale subscribers, but it made up for them with 1.3 million connected device links, which includes cars and other internet-of-things devices. [company]AT&T[/company] now hosts 121 million total wireless connections on its networks.

Over the last year, AT&T has been signing deal after deal with automakers to provide the LTE link to their new 3G and 4G cars. Most of those new connected Audis, Chevys, Buicks, Cadillacs and Volvos rolled out this summer and fall (it also supplies the links to Tesla cars), leading to two big quarters of vehicle-driven growth. In Q3, it added 500,000 car connections as well.

Archrival [company]Verizon[/company] welcomed 2.07 million new connections to its networks in a Q4 that was also dominated by new tablet subscriptions. [company]T-Mobile[/company] grew by 2.1 million connections and [company]Sprint[/company] saw a rare growth spurt of 1 million new subscribers.

Financially AT&T posted a net loss of $3.9 billion after seven straight quarters of profit. AT&T said that loss is attributed to actuarial losses on its employee benefit plans, network write-offs and merger and integration expenses. AT&T just bought Mexican carrier Iusacell, and it’s in the process of acquiring both DirecTV and Nextel Mexico, all of which will give AT&T a big presence in Latin America.

“Building out Mexico is going to be a full-court press for the next few years,” CEO Randall Stephenson said at AT&T’s earnings call.

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