It's tempting to think of Verizon (NYSE:VZ) as nothing more than a wireless network provider. The cell phone network it runs in a joint venture with British peer Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) gets all the press, and you really shouldn't ignore a network with 96 million connections. Wireless growth did indeed help Big Red hit Wall Street's estimates in the just-reported third quarter thanks to a healthy mix of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Androids.
The iPhone 5 didn't make much of an impact on the quarter. The hotly anticipated device hit store shelves just days before Verizon closed its books on the quarter, and sale volumes were limited by the units Apple shipped to this particular network.
But don't cry for Verizon over iPhone 5 shortages. The 650,000 high-end handsets sold in this quarter will expand in the fourth quarter as Apple works out its manufacturing issues.
And in the meantime, third-quarter iPhone sales jumped about 50% year over year to 3.1 million units. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo is perfectly happy selling iPhone 4 and 4S units to value-minded customers: "What we are seeing on the 4 and 4S is that we're attracting customers who probably previously did not come to Verizon because of the cost point of that iPhone," he said on the earnings call. "So I think you saw that in our net add gross for the quarter."
On the wired side of the fence, it looks like Verizon is pretty happy with the FiOS and copper-line assets it owns now. A large sale of underperforming Midwestern accounts to rural specialist Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) seems to have trimmed the unwanted fat off Verizon's wired operations. The division reported its highest consumer revenue growth in more than a decade thanks to 10% higher average revenues per wireline account. FiOS fiber under the Verizon umbrella now passes over 17 million homes, and 37% of these households have signed up for service. That's up from 35% of 13.4 million available households a year ago.
Wired sales still represent a solid 33% of Verizon's sales, and the segment also serves as the backbone for all those high-speed wireless tower connections. Ignore this asset at your own risk.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google. Check out Anders' bio and holdings, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, and Vodafone. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.