Wireless carrier U.S. Cellular on Friday posted its consolidated financial report for the fourth quarter of 2017, revealing it made $1.03 billion in revenue and $4 million in net income attributable to shareholders over the three-month period, not accounting for the $269 million benefit received as a result of the new tax legislation in the United States. Over the entire 2017, U.S. Cellular generated $3.89 billion in revenue, down from $3.99 billion posted in 2016. The company reported a $12 million profit attributable to stockholders during the year. The quarterly profit improvement is significant in light of the fact U.S. Cellular cost shareholders $6 million in Q4 2016, whereas its latest financials as a whole managed to beat street estimates, most of which were predicting another period of losses for the company.
Instead, the Chicago, Illinois-based mobile service provider added 18,000 net customers and lowered its churn rate to just a single percentage point, down from 1.23-percent in Q4 2016. While its full-year 2017 revenue was slightly below its 2016 performance, the Q4 figure was $20 million higher compared to the results from twelve months before. U.S. Cellular President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth R. Meyers touted the final quarter of 2017 as a period of "significant progress" for the company, revealing the quarter concluded the firm's recent cost-cutting efforts that allowed it to save approximately $100 million over the last year. The regional network operator is now planning to continue reducing its expenses going forward, claiming it already identified and implemented initiatives that will allow it to do so this year. The firm is expecting it will continue growing its customer base this year and vowed to continue investing in its infrastructure. The most recent result of its network improvements launched in the form of a VoLTE service in Wisconsin and Iowa.
U.S. Cellular has recently been intensifying its 5G research and development efforts, having tested such solutions in the millimeter-wave spectrum with Ericsson last fall. While the company is already making plans for 5G deployment, it's only interested in the next generation of connectivity in the context of truly mobile offerings, whereas its existing fixed wireless access plans are still based on 4G LTE, Mr. Meyers suggested last month.