AT&T shared several key numbers ahead of its fourth quarter earnings report, scheduled for Jan. 25.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the carrier said it added roughly 900,000 domestic wireless subscribers in the fourth quarter, but only about 37% of those were branded phone net additions. The AT&T network also supports automotive connections, other internet of things devices and tablets.
The carrier said that of its 900,000 branded net adds, approximately 500,000 were postpaid and 400,000 were prepaid connections. It is likely that many of the prepaid connections were non-phone subscribers. Last year, AT&T became the first major U.S. carrier to introduce an IoT data plan.
During the fourth quarter, AT&T deactivated about 700,000 2G network connections, of which just 50,000 were postpaid connections. The carrier said that at the end of 2016, it had approximately 2.3 million remaining 2G subscribers and non-voice phone connections, of which about 100,000 were postpaid. AT&T discontinued 2G service on Jan. 1, 2017.
“By shutting down our 2G network, this frees up more spectrum for future network technologies, including 5G. In the next few months we plan to repurpose that spectrum for LTE,” AT&T chief strategy officer John Donovan wrote in a recent blog post. Donovan also said AT&T’s 3G and LTE networks cover 99% of the country’s population.
In the SEC filing, AT&T also announced it added 200,000 DirecTV subscriptions, and 1.2 million wireless net adds in Mexico. AT&T purchased DirecTV, Nextel Mexico and Mexican carrier Iusacell in 2015.
$1 billion noncash loss AT&T also announced a $1 billion noncash loss triggered by a change in the way the company accounts for pension obligations. AT&T has adjusted the assumed discount rates used to measure pension obligations to 4.4% from 4.6%, and changed the rate used for post-retirement obligations from 4.3% to 4.5%. Together, the two moves resulted in a $3 billion loss. However, $2 billion of that was offset by lower claims, higher-than-expected asset returns, demographic changes, mortality and other assumption changes.
The loss associated with the pension fund changes is not expected to impact AT&T’s operating results or margins. The carrier’s stock opened higher after the announcements.