SBC Adds 378K DSL Subs

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SBC Communications Inc. added a record 378,000 digital-subscriber-line customers in fourth-quarter 2003, a slight sequential gain over the third quarter's 365,000 additions, in announcing otherwise-sobering quarterly financial results.

Fourth-quarter revenue dropped from $11.2 billion last year to $10.3 billion this year, largely due to residential-access-line losses. Net income in the fourth quarter was $905 million compared with $2.4 billion in the year-earlier period.

But SBC executives said the telco has cut the rate of line loss due to DSL and long-distance bundling. "The goal is to drive growth in the bundle," chief financial officer Randall Stephenson said.

Video will be added to that bundle with a soft launch of EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network direct-broadcast satellite service in February, he added, followed by a hard launch in March.

In other earnings news, EarthLink Inc. reported EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization) of $36.5 million in the fourth quarter on revenue of $348.6 million. Narrowband revenue dropped 10% year-over-year to $230.4 million, while broadband revenue grew 36% year-over-year to $98 million.

EarthLink said it added 248,000 net new subscribers in the quarter, which included 108,000 broadband customers. Overall, the Internet-service provider said, it had 4 million narrowband and 1.1 million broadband subscribers.

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