Verizon Wireless, whose Amp’d Mobile-and-maybe-the-iPhone growing pains we wrote about earlier this month, is adding customers the old fashioned way — by buying them. Monday, the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based carrier said it will buy Rural Cellular Corporation and its 716,000 customers for $2.67 billion. Verizon will still be the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier by customer count, behind AT&T. But Verizon Wireless is already the largest by revenue, as parent company Verizon Communications reported this morning in its second-quarter earnings release.
Verizon Wireless also trumped rival AT&T in a key growth metric: the amount of money its users spend on data services, including text messaging, wireless Web subscriptions and entertainment services. VZW subscribers spent about $9.57 per month on data services last quarter, about 9% more than the $8.77 AT&T’s customers spent. Data revenue is increasingly important as subscribers spend less money on phone calls. Sprint Nextel has historically reported the highest per-user data revenue; it reports its second-quarter results next Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Verizon also said it added 167,000 subscribers to its FiOS TV offering last quarter; it now has 515,000. in 12 states. At the end of the quarter, FiOS TV service was available for sale to 3.9 million homes; Verizon’s 13% penetration is up from 9% at the end of 2006.