Verizon FiOS Slows as Mobile Grows

Verizon (s vz) posted today a fourth-quarter loss thanks to a $3 billion charge for worker layoffs related to the company’s fading residential landline business. And while Verizon continues to grow its wireless operations at an impressive clip, its FiOS business seems to be losing momentum.

Verizon saw just 153,000 net new FiOS fiber-to-the-home Internet customers in the fourth quarter, down from 198,000 new adds in the third quarter of 2009. The growth marks a 34 percent year-over-year increase but also indicates a dramatic slowdown from the first half of 2009. FiOS Internet penetration (customers as a percentage of potential customers) was 28.1 percent by the end of the fourth quarter, up from 24.9 percent penetration during the fourth quarter of 2008. The company expanded its potential FiOS Internet market by only 2.2 million potential premises during 2009, which appears to confirm reports that it is slowing deployment until it sees higher uptake.

Verizon Wireless continued to grow at an impressive pace, though. The joint venture with Vodafone (s vod) added 2.2 million net new customers to reach a total of 91.2 million users and surpassing analysts’ estimates of 1.5 million net adds, according to Reuters. Data average revenue per user increased to $16.24 and data revenues accounted for 31.9 percent of all service revenues during the quarter, up from 26.5 percent during the year-ago period. That overall growth in data ARPU is a trend Verizon is obviously hoping to build on with new plans that reduce the cost of voice but make data service mandatory on many popular phones. Mobile network operators are increasing depending on data usage to offset declining revenues from voice.

Image courtesy Flickr user Eric Hauser.