Make us your home page
Instagram

Wireless industry sees number of long-term contracts fall for first time

NEW ORLEANS — U.S. consumers have had their fill of expensive, contract-based phone plans.

Figures from T-Mobile USA this week, added to earlier reports from other companies, indicate that the U.S. wireless industry lost subscribers from contract-based plans — the most lucrative ones for phone companies — for the first time in the first quarter. The industry default, they account for the vast majority of revenue at the big phone companies.

The seven largest U.S. phone companies, representing more than 95 percent of the market, lost a combined 52,000 subscribers from contract-based plans in the January-to-March period, according to a tally by the Associated Press. The companies have a combined 220 million devices on such plans, accounting for about two-thirds of the total number of devices.

Since nearly every adult and many teens and children already have phones, there's little room for growth anymore. But subscribers are also flowing to cheaper, no-contract plans, which showed an increase of at least 2 million in the first quarter.

The industry is also adding millions of nonphone devices, like smart energy meters. These so-called "machine-to-machine" connections usually carry very low monthly fees, on the order of a few dollars per month.

For example, AT&T subscribers on contract-based plans pay an average of $64.46 per month, while other AT&T customers pay an average of $11.52 per month.

T-Mobile's report comes on the last day of the U.S. cellphone industry's annual trade show in New Orleans. At the show, companies talked about various ways of boosting their business outside phones. For instance, AT&T launched a home security and automation business, and the head of its wireless business, Ralph de la Vega, said the company is getting closer to launching family data plans, which would allow the sharing of one "bucket" of data among various devices and family members. That could encourage people who already have a smartphone to get a tablet with data service as well. Verizon Wireless has already announced that it is introducing such plans this summer.

The Associated Press's tally of subscribers excludes some contract-based machine-to-machine connections reported by T-Mobile. The company also added 435,000 prepaying subscribers of all kinds in the quarter, which was its best result in more than two years for that category.

Wireless industry sees number of long-term contracts fall for first time 05/11/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 11, 2012 8:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy but keeps stores open (w/video)

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Toys 'R' Us, the big box toy retailer struggling with $5 billion in debt and intense online competition, has filed for bankruptcy protection ahead of the key holiday shopping season — and says its stores will remain open for business as usual.

    Shoppers shop in a Toys R Us store on Black Friday in Miami in 2016. Toys R Us, the pioneering big box toy retailer, announced late Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while continuing with normal business operations. [Associated Press]
  2. Trigaux: Waiting for your next pay raise? Keep dreaming, employers hint

    Working Life

    The economy's bouncing back. The stock market keeps hitting new records. And the jobless rate in Florida may soon drop below 4 percent. Surely, these are robust indicators — key signs that an annual raise is just around the corner. Right?

    Who doesn't want a pay raise? Demonstrators have rallied for years in a number of states for a $15 minimum wage. But many workers across a broad pay range are unlikely to see much if any raises this year, a new survey says. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
  3. Florida Guard scales down troop strength; Navy sails away from the Keys

    State Roundup

    The Florida National Guard on Monday drew down its activated statewide forces to about 1,200 on-duty troops, mostly in operations focused on relief distribution in the Florida Keys — and the last of a mini-armada of U.S. Navy ships off Key West set sail for home.

    Soldiers from the Florida National Guard's Delta Company, 1st Battallion, 124th Infantry, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team on Sept. 14. The Federal Emergency Managment Agency has reported that 25-percent of all homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and 65-percent sustained major damage when they took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma.  [Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images]
  4. LOCALE Market hosting St. Pete job fair for hospitality positions

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — Locale Market / FarmTable Kitchen is hosting a hospitality job fair Tuesday in St. Petersburg. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LOCALE Market at 179 2nd Ave. North, St. Petersburg. Organizers said they hope to hire about 20 workers with a focus on displaced workers from Hurricane …

    Locale Market is hosting job fair on Tues., Feb. 19. [LARA CERRI | Times] 

  5. So far, 335,000 Irma claims totalling $1.95 billion filed in Florida

    Business

    Times Staff Writer

    As of Sunday afternoon, insurers had received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported Monday based on preliminary figures.

    This shows a damaged mobile home inside Clover Leaf Farms RV Park in Brooksville. So far, insurers have received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma.
[MEGAN REEVES   |   Times]