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Verizon's Earnings Jump Thanks To Wireless Growth

Verizon Wireless unit recorded 1.5 million net customer additions, and Verizon's FiOS TV service signed up 263,000 net new customers.

Verizon Communications' focus on its leading-edge technologies in wireless and fiber was largely responsible for a rise of nearly 10% in its first-quarter earnings, the company announced Monday.

Verizon said its Verizon Wireless unit recorded 1.5 million net customer additions, and that 263,000 net new customers signed up for its FiOS TV service. Verizon Wireless now has 67.2 million customers, while the new FiOS service has a total of 1.2 million customers.

The nation's second-largest telecommunications company -- AT&T is the largest -- posted the strong financial performance in the face of widespread fears the United States is in, or entering, a recession. Verizon's income grew to $1.64 billion on revenue of $23.8 billion.

"Verizon has weathered the current economic uncertainty with strong first-quarter results," said chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg in a statement. "I am also confident of our position over the long term because we have further opportunities to drive revenue growth and further opportunities to eliminate costs."

As in recent quarters, Verizon Wireless, which Verizon Communications owns jointly with Vodafone Group, highlighted the financial report. Revenue at the unit increased 13.2% to $11.7 billion, and the wireless operating margin was 27.9%. The company noted that it was the leading acquirer of 700 MHz licenses in the recent FCC auction. Verizon Wireless paid $9.36 billion for the licenses, which will help the company roll out a faster LTE wireless infrastructure in 2010.

Verizon said data revenue in the wireless unit was up 48.9% over the previous year's figure to $2.3 billion.

Wireline revenue declined slightly to $12.3 billion, a drop of 1.4% compared with last year's first quarter. As many subscribers drop their old wireline phones in favor of cell phones, Verizon and AT&T have been trying to make up the difference with new efforts in fiber-based services. Verizon said its FiOS high-speed Internet and TV services passed 10.4 million premises at the end of the quarter.

Verizon noted that it will launch a major effort in New York City, where it has filed for a video franchise permit to cover more than 3 million homes.

While Verizon has been stepping up its efforts to grow its high-end technology services that promise more lucrative profits, the former Baby Bell has been selling off some of its older landline operations that operate primarily in rural areas. At the end of the quarter, it disposed of landline operations in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont in a sale to FairPoint Communications. Before that, it sold a landline operation in Hawaii.

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