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AT&T Q3 Results -- 3.2 Million iPhones Activated, 40% to New Customers

Hot on the heels of Apple's Q4 results come AT&T's Q3 report (opens in new tab), and the iPhone-related news keeps getting better and better, including a record 3.2 million activations, 40% of which went to new customers.

And the records didn't stop there. Highest Q3 net subscriber gain, best ever Q3 churn rate, largest quarterly increase of integrated devices (like iPhone) in history, and 33.6% increase in data revenue.

What's astonishing is this growth persists despite widespread, ongoing -- almost farcical at this point -- reports of poor network experience for iPhone users. Imagine if AT&T could build out infrastructure to meet demand in areas like San Francisco and New York?

And how happy are they Verizon appears to be out of the iPhone picture, at least for now?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • The 33.6% increase in data revenue has got to be good news, because it means ATT has no more excuses for not ramping up the build-out of 3G and setting 4G started.
    It also proves to them that being a Dumb Pipe can be very lucrative.
    But as for this little nugget:
    widespread, ongoing — almost farcical at this point — reports of poor network experience for iPhone users.
    I would suggest alternative wording:
    Localized, loudly trumpeted, sensationalized reports with no hard data among users of a device with a historically poor reputation for network connectivity.
    We hear reports of 30 percent call drop rate in NTC, but every single one of these is traced to exactly ONE story published about an ALLEGED comment by some un-named Apple genius trying to weasel out of a warranty claim.
    Nobody hears of virtually flawless 3G in Seattle, Baltimore, Miami, and Chicago.
  • @icebike
    I've had approx 1 dropped call in the 16 months I've had an iPhone on Rogers, due to a firmware issue. I think AT&T is pretty freaking bad to have any dropped calls at all.
  • I love ATT Service. Better than Verizon in my experience.
    The complaints re: ATT's network are clearly overblown and fostered by Verizon.
    Verizon's network is not overloaded because of their crippled phones.
    Plus, with ATT, simultaneous voice and data are possible (can't do with Verizon/CDMA)!
  • It must suck to live in SanFran or NYC because here in MD around Baltimore/DC I have no issues with my AT&T 3G service. In fact it's great, almost all of MD is now covered in 3G, full bars pretty much every where. Can't remember the last time I had a dropped call.
  • I agree! AT&T's network is great! Perfect 3G in Colorado Springs! And I never drop calls I hate all this complaining..
  • @Bob:
    (can’t do with Verizon/CDMA)
    You mean you can't do that on Verizon's CDMA.
    UMTS (3G) is also CDMA. Its just not brain-dead CDMA.
  • They got me with the new iPhone 3GS because the first generation Storm sucked and sucked bad!! As most will agree, VZW coverage (especially 3G coverage) is WAY better than AT&T. Now if AT&T could get their weak coverage taken care of we would have a map and an app for that!!!
  • While it's a well-known problem, AT&T's service is horrible here in Los Angeles. That's great that other people have great service in other cities, but that doesn't help my issues with really bad reception and consistently dropped calls or lack of signal. Don't tell me that my complaints are overblown and sensationalized, because I jumped from Verizon, a network where I very rarely had issues, in order to get an iPhone, and now I have to deal with a network where I always have issues -- I would estimate that perhaps 20% of my calls have occurred without a hitch (meaning that 80% of the time, either the call was dropped or, for a good portion of it, was so garbled that I couldn't understand what the other person was saying).
    I can't use 3G in my entire area because for some reason, I apparently live in a pocket of EDGE service that extends for several blocks, and I sometimes lose any kind of data coverage entirely. I can barely use my iPhone in my apartment because there isn't a signal here, and I have to leave the phone in a particular place next to the balcony and use my Bluetooth just to be able to receive calls... I had to put in a landline (which I had done without for 5 years on Verizon) because otherwise I couldn't be guaranteed the ability to make or get phone calls when I needed to.
    I'm paying for a supposedly nationwide service that I can't use in the city in which I live, so I'm going to complain about a service that was advertised to work everywhere in Los Angeles -- especially since I was presented with an AT&T coverage map that claimed full 3G coverage of my city. And I'm not the only one here with this issue, nor is this the only city where there's a problem with AT&T's coverage.
    People don't hear of "flawless coverage" in those cities because if something works for them, they tend not to make noise about it (though Googling "AT&T Wireless service" and those city names turned up people posting complaints for all of them). They're getting the service they expect because they're getting what they're paying for. How often have you posted an unsolicited positive review of a product you bought? Conversely, how often have you posted a negative review of something that disappointed you?
  • att is set to go trial of lte in q1 of 2010.....
    cant wait!
  • Is the 3GS capable of working on LTE or will it have to be the next Gen iPhone??
  • Don't buy any ATT stock yet, there will be a mass exodus as soon as the iphone is available on another carrier. I have had NO SERVICE on 3G all day in NYC, although for half the day it showed 4 bars. Pathetic. How I miss Sprint, and the sacrifice I'm willing to make for my iphone.
  • Upstate NY full 3g everywhere including the outskirts of my city and even in the deep sticks. As far as dropped calls had 1 maybe 2 in the last 10 mths. My gf was on verizon with a BB and had spotty coverage and dropped calls all the time. There where many times when she had to use my phone cause she had no service. After her 3rd BB phone she left and in now on at&t with a shiny new 3gs and she loves it. And i'm sure she's one of many so like I have said before on here. It all depends on where you live. And what carrier provides great service in that area. Just because at&t sucks in your part off town doesnt mean it sucks everywhere.
  • I always here that AT&T services suks, but I live in DC and my service is better than my verizon services was.. Or maybe it was the sorry as BB Storm services that suked in any case my AT&T services is great here in DC.
  • @icebike
    Ah grasshopper but you forget even though data revenue went up 33.6%, data use increased also. It doesnt automatically mean theres exactly 33.6% more money to spend!
    The iphone isnt going anywhere anytime soon. VZW's anti-iphone ads pretty much negate that anytime soon, and Sprint is still a dying company im sure Apple doesnt think is worth dealing with (cant sell enough units to make it worthwhile).
  • @Mike Bye you wil be missed bye me and 30,999,998 others.
  • @ Keith- sounds like you need to get on the phone and haggle with an AT&T rep for one if those devices that allows your cell to connect through your broadband. Then you could skip the landline and have full 3G bars in and around your house. I'd hit AT&T up for a discount on the service though because it's $20 per month which is ridiculous for a service you are providing them.
  • @Mike Also that's the first time I ever read or heard anyone say "I miss sprint".
  • @Al
    That femtocell is only available in a few markets still in NC unfortunately.
    And he shouldve done his research and worried about service where HE LIVES, not what some map or nationwide coverage show.
    People are WAY too concerned about who has the most coverage and not how it is where they actually go, not where they may or may not travel 10 years from now.
  • @Al -- I know, I was extremely happy when I heard that AT&T was rolling out the Microcell... then I found out it's only available in Raleigh & Charlotte. No timeline for when it'll be available elsewhere. And while that would definitely help in the house, it wouldn't help when I'm in the car or walking around or any place more than 40 yards from the Microcell (I think that's about the range).
  • ha 20th
  • @klmsu19: I did worry about service where I live, that's why I checked out the coverage map AT&T provided for my neighborhood down to the street level -- which proclaims they have "BEST" voice coverage in my area. What else was I supposed to do, ask the AT&T rep about coverage in the neighborhood? I asked around with friends who have AT&T and got general answers for the entire city, but I didn't know anyone who lives specifically in my neighborhood who has AT&T.
    Here's the helpful AT&T map -- which, by the way, if they're willing to put that on their website, constitutes a legal promise to cover this area with "BEST" coverage should I subscribe to their service.
  • @Keith
    Is it just inside the building itself on even when you step outside into the street/driveway?
    If its just the building, we have a lot of that here in South Florida since the buildings are all concrete because of hurricane code. Its impossible for the map to compensate for that. But a femtocell would solve that- im waiting for it to be available too for that reason.
    Also it depends on network traffic in the area. If its congested then the service quality wont be as good.
  • @klmsu19: It's outside, not just inside my building -- I understand building construction can affect signal strength.
    There's a stretch of about 50 yards walking down my street where I have no service at all, then once I get the signal back, I'm EDGE-only for a couple of blocks after that. There seems to be an EDGE-only patch that's a few square blocks in this neighborhood. Yesterday when I was walking home, I dropped yet another call while approaching a major intersection when my signal strength suddenly went from 5 bars to 1 bar.
  • @Keith
    If I remember correctly.. you have a couple weeks to decide if you like the phone, and the coverage you recieve in your home area.. if you were so unhappy, my suggestion would have been to discontinue your service before you were locked in.
    One thing AT&T needs to get on though, and soon, is 3G coverage in more places.. I have it and it works amazingly.. but they need to broaden that coverage map.. to make people feel more secure.
  • @d.allen: Yes, I did have the couple of weeks, and I stuck with AT&T because my fiancee wanted it for our family plan and we both liked the iPhones as devices. My point, however, is not that I shouldn't have stayed with AT&T -- my point is that my and many other people's complaints about AT&T's service shouldn't be discounted as "overblown" or "sensationalized" as others have labeled them, especially since AT&T claims to put "BEST" coverage over most of Los Angeles.
  • @Keith
    But by you and your wife "dealing" with the crappy coverage.. you aren't proving to AT&T that there is a problem.. you are giving them the contract they want, without forcing their hand to make change.. If everyone on this site that complains about AT&T, or everyone anywhere that does, would simply pack up and go.. then maybe it would alarm them to making changes.. as for me, my coverage is great, wish yours was, but since it isn't.. I wish you would have voiced your opinion with your wallet, and not on an iphoneblog.
  • @d.allen: You're right, maybe I ought to have left. (Though I was also dissatisfied with Verizon's customer service... a rep lied to me when I was having problems with a phone, among other issues.) However, I'd like to think that by voicing my issues on an iPhone blog, maybe I can convince someone else to make the choice not to spend their money with AT&T. Or perhaps if enough AT&T subscribers raise their voices, the company will make the necessary upgrades to quell the rising tide of complaints about their service and avert this still-growing PR problem.
  • Keith, maybe you are right.. who's to say what AT&T will react to.. but until then, I wish you luck with a phone that you aren't getting enough out of.
  • @Keith
    we all hear you but posting on blogs doesnt change ATT's stance much. Especially when theyre selling 3.2 million iphones a quarter and adding 2 million customers. People are going to get the iphone because they want the phone, no matter how loud you scream about ATT's service. Its either iphone or another carrier and something they dont want.
  • Count me as one of the (happy) new Q3 customers.
  • I was going to originally post to give Keith a hard time about keeping the phone that didnt work past the 30 day no return term, but I know he knows whats up with that.
    Keith, go over to Facebook, I dont care if you dont have an account, make one, if you havent been there already and post a message. Some people will respond and try to flame you, myself included. People are just plain stupid sometimes and its total comedy when someone thats owned the phone for 5 months doesnt know how to turn it off or set their email up with it. They just plug the phone in and let it charge. Anyway go over there, AT&T is very good about replying usually within the hour. They will tell you to send them an email with your contact information and a description of the problem to But post a message, thats how they keep track of whats going on with people, and its lets other people see whats going on. Lastly they will also offer to send you over to AT&T customer care @ talk to Molly. they are actively working issues where their coverage map shows a signal and there isnt any. I live in norcal, and they are doing some construction on the highway here and tore down a tower and diverted traffic to the other towers. Well that sucked and I can drive over 2 miles from my apartment and see one of these
    setup right where I said the old tower used to be. And they said it would stay there until the permanent tower is replaced. Hope this helps.
  • I actually don't think there is an easier way than the old fashioned wayI mean you would think there would be with all the technology these days