TDS reported an unaudited net loss just shy of $169 million ($1.49 per common share) in Q408, primarily the result of a non-cash $414 million write-down of ‘goodwill and other intangible assets.’ Net income for the full year totaled $93.541 million ($0.81 per common share), a sharp drop from the $386.112 million ($2.92 per common share) posted in 2007.
Operating revenues rose 1.7%, to $1,264 million, for Q4 and 5.4%, to $5,092 million for all of 2008. Positive highlights included 7.1% and 31.8% increases in operating and data revenues, respectively, and a low retail churn rate of 1.6% at its 82%-owned U.S. Cellular subsidiary. In addition, average revenue per unit (ARPU) rose 4% to $53.23.
On the wireline side, TDS reported 24% and 18.9% increases in digital subscriber line customers and data revenues, respectively, for its incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) business, as well as a 23.3 increase in data revenues, which reached $90 million. The company completed its acquisition of Wisconsin’s State Long Distance Telecom, which added 9,100 access and 2,300 DSL lines to TDS’s network. They added 3,900 Triple Play voice, DSL and satellite TV accounts during Q4, bringing the total to 58,500. Customer churn in this segment is very low at 0.5%.
“In the quarter, U.S. Cellular added 41,000 net new retail post-pay customers. At year end post-pay represented 95 percent of the retail customer base. Data revenues continued to be strong, growing 32 percent in the quarter, and represented 14.5 percent of service revenues. ARPU was up year over year for the 13th consecutive quarter, while post-pay churn remained low at 1.6 percent,” president and CEO LeRoy T. Carlson Jr. commented.
Looking ahead, TDS aims to deliver 10 MB service to more than 50% of its customer base this year, as well as offering 25 MB or faster service to “selected competitive markets” this year and next, Carlson added. TDS is also introducing a new ‘managed IP’ service, a hosted integrated IP voice and data communications solution aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses. A 10G regional fiber transport network will be rolled out in 2009 to support that effort.