AT&T's Q1 results: earnings down thanks to one-time charge, NYC seeing 'solid improvements'

AT&T's first quarter results posted this morning look generally quite positive for the company -- it saw its highest first-quarter net wireless adds in history (1.9 million) and both postpaid and total churn are at their lowest levels ever, suggesting that subscribers are happier with their service than they have been in recent months, the thought of tantalizing hardware is keeping them around, they're too worn down to bother switching, or some combination of the above. Net income of $2.5 billion was down a bit year over year -- $600 million, to be exact -- thanks to a one-time charge related to some tax craziness that only accountants would fully comprehend, but had it not been for that, they'd be looking at having banked $3.5 billion. In other words, the numbers are looking good.

At least the financial numbers are looking good, but what about those dropped calls? AT&T claims that Manhattan -- one of the hardest-hit areas in the country, if not the hardest -- saw a 6 percent improvement in the first quarter, with the New York metro area improving 9 percent overall. The promised third carrier rollout is claimed to be well underway, and as proof of all this noise, AT&T helpfully provides a pair of graphs -- graphs with no perceptible Y-axis units, mind you -- showing bigger bars and higher lines in the first quarter than in last. Of course, we still don't appreciate AT&T bringing its extensive WiFi network into the equation here; it's still totally non sequitur to the matter at hand, as far as we're concerned, since even the most extensive WiFi coverage is a drop in the bucket against WWAN footprint. Besides, if these guys can actually meet their proclaimed goal of offering both the fastest and the most reliable 3G data around, it's a moot point, right?