Alltel Adds 1 Million Subscribers, Makes Sprint Feel Even Worse

Alltel, the runt of the nationwide carriers, added 1 million customers this past quarter, totally now over 13 million subscribers. Even though the CDMA-based carrier says it operates the "largest" network, we don't actually know anyone who uses it. Still, its aggressive pricing strategies and frogdesign-based interfaces have drawn our attention. Maybe Sprint, down a million this quarter, could learn a thing or two from the upstart. (Press release after jump, if you care.)

Alltel adds one million gross wireless customers in the first quarter

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Alltel achieved record customer growth in the first quarter, adding more than 1 million gross customers for the second consecutive quarter. Net customer additions also hit a new high with a 63 percent increase year-over-year.

"We are pleased with our results across the board, and I am extremely proud of our team for staying focused in our first full quarter under new ownership," said President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Ford. "We are off to a strong start for the year, with consolidated EBITDA up 18 percent year-over-year."

Alltel completed its merger with an affiliate of TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners in November 2007 and ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Among the highlights for the first quarter:

• Revenues were $2.3 billion, an 11 percent increase from the same period a year ago. The company reported a net loss of $125 million, due primarily to significant increases in interest costs and depreciation and amortization expense following the completion of the merger.

• Alltel added just over 1 million gross customers through internal growth, a 26 percent increase from a year ago. Post-pay net additions were 163,000, up 50 percent year over- year, and pre-pay net adds were 183,000. Reseller net adds, which Alltel is including this quarter in order to be consistent with industry practice, were 39,000. Total net adds were 385,000, an all-time high.

• Post-pay churn was 1.34 percent, essentially flat year-over-year, and total churn was 1.83 percent, up 6 basis points year-over-year.

• Average revenue per wireless customer (ARPU) was $53.64, up 2 percent from last year. Data revenue per customer reached a new high of $7.50, a 60 percent increase year-over-year.

• Consolidated EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was $847 million, an 18 percent increase from the same period a year ago.

A table describing consolidated EBITDA and reconciling net income to consolidated EBITDA is included in the schedules accompanying this release.

Alltel operates America's largest wireless network, which delivers voice and advanced data services nationwide to more than 13 million customers. Headquartered in Little Rock, Ark., Alltel is a Forbes 500 company with annual revenues of nearly $9 billion.

Alltel claims the protection of the safe-harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual future events and results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on estimates, projections, beliefs, and assumptions and are not guarantees of future events and results.