Most Carriers in Arkansas Saw Declining Revenues in 2009

The tale of the traditional wireline phone service carrier continues to be one of mostly declining revenue and access lines, based on filings with the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

By a 2-1 margin, companies on the Arkansas Business list of the largest local exchange carriers saw declining year-over-year revenue. Of the top three local exchange carriers, revenue was down an average of 6.7 percent.

(To see the list of local exchange carriers, click here. To see the list of long-distance carriers, click here.)

AT&T's total number of lines was down 10.5 percent, while CenturyLink had 7 percent fewer lines, Sage Telecom saw a nearly 25 percent drop, and Verizon Communications saw a 34 percent decrease in total lines.

Cox Arkansas Telecom and Comcast Phone of Arkansas both saw big gains in 2009. Cox's revenue was up nearly 35 percent over 2008, which itself increased 108.7 percent from 2007. Though its revenue was up, it didn't move on the list, coming in fourth for the second year in a row.

Cox increased its total number of lines in the state by 17 percent, with a jump in business lines accounting for much of the increase.

Comcast, which was ranked 15th last year, came in eighth this year, with a 45.6 percent jump in revenue.

TCA Communications Inc. (dba Suddenlink Communications) made its first appearance on the list, with what appeared to be a big jump in revenue - 766.6 percent, to be exact. That turned out to be due to a change in Suddenlink's accounting procedure.

Suddenlink is a cable broadband provider that offers voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) phone service, and, like Comcast, it doesn't claim any end-user access lines.

The appearance of the dramatic revenue increase was because in 2009, Suddenlink decided that additional categories of revenue needed to be reported to the Arkansas PSC, said Pete Abel, a spokesman for the company.

The list is limited to companies that reported at least $1 million in assessable revenue in Arkansas last year. Other notes on this year's list:

  • In February, Windstream Corp. announced it had completed its $647 million acquisition of NuVox Inc., whose NuVox Communications of Arkansas was fairly static, maintaining its place at 24th on the list, with a revenue increase of 0.5 percent.
  • Navigator Communications LLC, of North Little Rock, dropped off the list this year. Revenue for 2009 was $586,695, down 46 percent from 2008.
  • WilTel Communications has returned to the list of long-distance companies with $3.8 million in assessable Arkansas revenue last year. WilTel, which is owned by Level 3 Communications of Couldersport, Pa., didn't file a report with the PSC for 2008; it reported $4.16 million in assessable Arkansas revenue in 2007.
  • Sprint Communications Co. dropped off the long-distance list after its Arkansas revenue dropped below the $1 million cutoff. It reported $743,182 in assessable revenue last year, down from almost $1.2 million in 2008.
  • Verizon Communications' family of five interexchange carriers reported an increase of nearly 19 percent in Arkansas assessable revenue in 2009 - reversing the industry's trend and its own.