Rogers picks up wireless subscribers

iPhone users were the vast majority of 199,000 new subs

TORONTO -- Bucking a recessionary slump, Canada's Rogers Communications managed to add wireless phone subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2008, thanks to Apple's iPhone.

Toronto-based Rogers, Canada's largest cable TV and mobile phone provider, said Tuesday that it signed up 199,000 new wireless subscribers, of which 130,000 were data-heavy iPhone accounts.

That compares with 183,000 new wireless customers signed up during the fourth quarter of 2007.

Rogers, which reported preliminary fourth-quarter subscriber results Tuesday ahead of full-year results due Feb. 18, said that a "challenging economic backdrop" produced a sharp drop in basic cable TV subscriber additions -- 4,000 new accounts secured during the latest quarter, compared with 20,000 in 2007.

But that shortfall was offset by wireless phone expansion, which now accounts for the bulk of revenue and future growth prospects at Rogers.