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T-Mobile can't hold back AT&T from blockbuster profits

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(Read caption) AT&T posted strong Q4 2013 numbers.

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AT&T added 809,000 new mobile subscribers in the last three months of 2013, the Dallas-based wireless provider announced yesterday. 

Of those new customers, 566,000 were contract subscribers, the most lucrative variety. In addition, as BGR notes, AT&T posted a relatively low 1.11 percent "churn" rate, a measure of the number of customers that move to other carriers. The strong results helped boost AT&T's quarterly revenue to a healthy $33.2 billion. 

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"The next steps are to make our networks even more powerful and layer on services that will drive new growth in the years ahead," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement. "We have good momentum in areas like connected car, home automation and mobile business solutions. We’re also committed to transforming our operations to make them more responsive and efficient." 

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Of course, as Jeff Gamet of MacObserver points out, while the activation figures from AT&T are impressive, they're actually lower than the 780,000 contract subscribers AT&T added in Q4 of 2012, "and well below T-Mobile's 869,000 new subscribers."

T-Mobile, which has long lagged behind Verizon and AT&T in US market share, recently began allowing customers to sign up for a smart phone plan without opting into a two-year contract. This "uncarrier" strategy, as T-Mobile has dubbed, has paid huge dividends for the company – reps for T-Mobile say Q4 of 2013 was its best financial quarter in eight years. 

Thumbing his nose at his rivals, T-Mobile CEO John Legere recently said that "AT&T is a total source of amusement for me. These are fat cats that can’t move."