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(Adds details from the earnings release; updates share price)
Aug 1 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc on Thursday beat second-quarter profit estimates as the largest U.S. mobile carrier added far more net monthly phone subscribers than expected.
Shares of the Dow component rose 1.1% before the bell after the company said it added a net 245,000 phone subscribers during the quarter. Analysts were expecting it to add 163,000 subscribers, according to research firm FactSet.
Analysts pay attention to postpaid customers, or those with a recurring bill, because they are more valuable to carriers and tend to remain with the company longer than prepaid customers.
The earnings announcement comes about a week after the approval from the U.S. Justice Department on the merger between T-Mobile USA and Sprint. As part of the approval, T-Mobile agreed to divest Sprint's prepaid businesses including Boost Mobile and other assets to Dish Network Corp to build out a viable fourth carrier in a couple years.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint control more than 98% of the U.S. wireless market and have wireless service revenues of more than $160 billion.
T-Mobile and Sprint together have more than 135 million customers, while Verizon and AT&T control two-thirds of the total U.S. wireless market.
Verizon has put heavy focus on deploying 5G nationwide, with a goal to expand to more than 30 U.S. cities in 2019. But while Verizon is leading the charge to test its 5G services, industry analysts say the higher-speed networks are unlikely to be widely available until the middle of the next decade.
Verizon's net income fell to $4.07 billion, or 95 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30 from $4.25 billion, or $1 per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, Verizon earned $1.23 per share, beating analyst average estimate of $1.20 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Total operating revenue fell 0.4% to $32.1 billion and missed expectations of $32.41 billion. Revenue from Verizon's media unit alone was $1.8 billion, down 2.9% from a year earlier. (Reporting by Angela Moon in New York and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Bill Trott)