Prepaid Wireless Takes Off

It looked, for a while, like the wireless industry might shrug off the worst of the recession. AT&T (T), the biggest U.S. phone company, in January reported a respectable 13.2% increase in fourth-quarter wireless sales, fueled by strong subscriber gains. Things were looking up this year, too. Surveys showed consumers would rather reduce purchases even of food and clothing before ditching cell phones.

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