Alltel closed Q4 with 10.7 million wireless subscribers, adding 147,000 net new wireless customers in the quarter, well above most analyst estimates of 50,000 to 70,000. Alltel's ARPU for the fourth quarter was up 6% from 2004 to $52.13. Group President Kevin Beebe warned that ARPU growth would slow down goint forward; highlights from Alltel's ARPU were discussed in the company's call with analysts (full transcript here):
Slowdown in ARPU Growth: We expect retail ARPU growth to slow from the 5% growth we experienced in 2005...we’re fully aware of the fact that as our average revenue per customer growth slows, that means we need to look at the expense side. That mix, that balance of average revenue growth, expense growth, maintaining that and trying to maintain our margins, that’s our goal. It’s just not one or the other, is my point.
Uptick in Texting Packages: We’re seeing a nice uptick in packages that are either unlimited or a very, very high amount of texting. So the unlimited package I think we price it around 25 bucks and then we range between the low of $5 all the way up to that $25. We’re certainly seeing people take higher, and upgrade eventually if they take something, if they just buy per text.
Data Growth Plans for 2006: First, there’s market share that we think we can continue to gain on the post-pay side. That’s just good networks, competitive pricing, family plan growth, etcetera. That’s also prepay, where we have been absent in the past, really. .. On top of that, our broadband application opportunities that we have begun to step up. You saw that in the fourth quarter, the launch of a DO phone, MobiTV, etcetera. Many more things planned. So we’re definitely not giving up on data ARPU in 2006, have some really aggressive plans right now from a revenue perspective.