Cingular Wireless, the US’ second largest mobile operator, has announced its first fall in customer numbers and an 11% drop in earnings. The news reflects the difficulties US operators are facing to maintain subscriber growth.
The operator, which is owned by BellSouth and SBC Communications, has seen a decline in net subscribers of 107,000 to 22.1 million in Q3. The drop is being blamed on MCI WorldCom customers who either left or failed to meet Cingular’s credit requirements.
Fierce competition in the US mobile market has driven down prices to close to marginal cost. Cingular’s average revenues per user remained flat in Q3 at $52.17. However, EBITDA fell from $1.23 billion for Q3 2001 to $1.09 billion.