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3 smaller carriers report increases in data ARPU

Dobson Communications Corp. reported solid results for the final period of 2006, growing its subscriber base and increasing its average revenue per user.
Dobson ended the year with an ARPU of $49.92-up $3.82 year-over-year. The data portion of Dobson’s ARPU also increased, jumping from $2.90 in Q4 2005 to $5.11. Dobson’s roaming revenue increased 10.6 percent from 2005’s fourth quarter, to $70.1 million.
Dobson’s churn rate plunged from 2.62 percent in the last quarter of 2005 to 1.84 percent in the same quarter of 2006, a decrease of almost 30 percent. The carrier added 28,100 net new subscribers during the quarter, consisting of 15,100 postpaid customers, 16,100 prepaid customers, and a loss of 3,100 resellers. Dobson had reported a net loss of 22,500 net customers, most of them postpaid, during the fourth quarter of 2005. Dobson now counts about 1.45 million subscribers.
At the close of 2006, 89 percent of its subscriber base and 93 percent of its postpaid minutes were carried by its GSM network.
The carrier reported operating revenue of $247 million for the quarter, up from $215 million in the previous year. The fourth quarter has “essentially break-even results,” with a net loss applicable to common shareholders of $10,000.

CenturyTel
Rural telecom company CenturyTel Inc. posted lower operating revenue and profits for the fourth quarter, but the company expressed faith in its focus on providing broadband services to customers.
The company’s operating revenue ticked down about 2 percent from fourth-quarter 2005 to $607.7 million. Net income for the quarter decreased by more than 3 percent, to $79.4 million.
CenturyTel provides wireless service to customers who already use some of its other products, which include local and long-distance phone service, high-speed Internet and digital television. CenturyTel reported that its combined voice revenues were down 4 percent as the company lost local access lines. However, its data revenues were up more than 14 percent from the same period in 2005 due to expansion of its high-speed Internet services.
CenturyTel purchased six spectrum licenses for about $470,000 during the Advanced Wireless Services spectrum auction. The licenses covered parts of Alabama, Missouri and Arkansas. In August, CenturyTel won a contract to build a municipal Wi-Fi network for the mountain resort town of Vail, Colo. The network was launched in the fourth quarter.

Rogers
Meanwhile, Canadian telecom company Rogers Communications Inc. boosted its wireless ARPU more than 6 percent year-over-year and posted its lowest churn rate ever: 1.24 percent.
Rogers added 189,300 net new postpaid subscribers, plus 55,200 prepaid users. Meanwhile, postpaid ARPU increased to $59.40, an increase of 6.1 percent; Rogers credited an increase in data ARPU of nearly 42 percent for the boost. Prepaid ARPU was up about 14 percent to $13.03, and prepaid churn also was down year-over-year from 3.68 percent to 3.14 percent. Rogers closed out the year with about 5.4 million postpaid and 1.4 million prepaid customers.
The company’s net income for the quarter stood at $151 million, up substantially from a loss of $57.6 million during the same period in 2005. Operating revenue from Rogers’ wireless segment increased 20 percent year-over-year to about $1.08 billion; the company noted that during the quarter, it updated some accrued liabilities which resulted in an operating profit of about $19 million.

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