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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Wireless customer growth slows

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis
Bloomberg News Service

WASHINGTON — The U.S wireless telephone industry boosted customers by 4.8 percent in the first six months of 2002, the slowest rate ever, according to an industry survey.

The number of wireless customers rose to 134.6 million as of June 30 from 128.4 million at the end of 2001, the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association said.

Verizon Wireless Inc., AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and other mobile-phone companies are cutting per-minute prices and offering more free minutes on nights and weekends as customer growth slows.

Analysts say the companies may need to combine in an attempt to reduce expenses and boost revenue.

In the first half of 2002, industry revenue rose 6.7 percent to $36.7 billion from $34.4 billion in the last six months of 2001.

Customers used nearly 300 billion minutes in the first half of 2002, up from 197 billion minutes in the year-earlier period, the group said.

The mobile phone companies had at least 10 percent growth in customers every six months until June 2001, when carriers boosted subscribers 8.1 percent from the end of 2000. In the second half of 2001, subscribers rose 8.4 percent, according to the industry's survey.