AT&T Drops Sharply In New Wireless Subscribers

NEW YORK (AP) - When Verizon Wireless started selling the iPhone, AT&T sounded a defiant note, saying that its customers would remain loyal. A year later, it’s clear that the Verizon iPhone has crimped AT&T’s stride.

Verizon, the country’s largest wireless carrier, had little problem attracting new customers before it started selling the iPhone. In fact, it was the only one that managed to keep up with AT&T’s iPhone-fueled growth.

But with the iPhone in its arsenal, the country’s biggest wireless company is getting bigger, while No. 2 AT&T’s growth has slowed precipitously.

On Tuesday, AT&T revealed that it essentially gained no phone subscribers on contract-based plans in the first quarter. That’s only happened once before: A year ago, when Verizon launched its version of the iPhone.

Contract-based plans are by far the most lucrative for a phone company, and the number of new customers is an important measure of …

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