Nextel, Cingular Earnings Rise

Nextel reported its fourth quarterly profit in a row, while Cingular reported 189,000 new customers for the quarter.

Earnings and subscriber rates are up for Nextel Communications Inc. and Cingular Wireless, which both reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

Nextel reported its fourth quarterly profit in a row, owing to a growing base of customers who like to use their phones as walkie-talkies.

The Reston, Va., company earned $208 million in the first quarter of 2003, compared with a loss of $654 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Quarterly revenue was $2.37 billion, compared with $1.96 billion for the first quarter of 2002.

The company added 480,000 subscribers in the quarter, giving it a base of some 11.1 million customers. Average monthly revenue per subscriber was $67, a dollar less than the same period last year, but still higher than most of the companys competitors. Officials attributed this to its Direct Connect service, which lets Nextel customers in a local calling area talk to each other with the touch of a button, a la a walkie-talkie. The company is in the process of rolling out nationwide Direct Connect service.

Meanwhile, Cingular Wireless reported 189,000 new customers for the quarter, for a total base of 22.1 million.

The Atlanta carrier reported an operating income of $716 million compared with $667 million the year before, and a quarterly revenue of $3.59 billion, compared with $3.54 billion the same quarter.

Average monthly revenue per user was $47.

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