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NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. mobile service, added 1.1 million customers in the second quarter, bringing its total to about 87.7 million, the venture of Verizon Communications (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group (VOD.L) said on Friday.
By contrast, AT&T Inc (T.N), the No. 2 U.S. wireless provider, added 1.4 million net subscribers in the quarter, outpacing the analysts' average expectation of about 1.08 million. AT&T is the exclusive carrier for Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) popular iPhone mobile handset.
Piper Jaffray analyst Chris Larsen estimated that this was Verizon's lowest quarterly net subscriber growth since 2003.
"We think both a combination of higher nets at AT&T, due in no small part to the iPhone 3GS launch, and consumers' interest in prepaid unlimited plans could have played a part in Verizon's lower sequential results," Larsen said.
While Verizon Wireless focuses mostly on monthly bill paying customers, smaller rivals have recently seen strong growth with unlimited service plans for customers who pay in advance for calls.
These rivals include Leap Wireless LEAP.O, MetroPCS PCS.N and Boost, a unit of Sprint Nextel (S.N).
Verizon Wireless said more details about its operations in the quarter will be provided on Monday, when Verizon Communications announces its results.
The company said its total subscriber base includes 85.2 million retail customers, which are those it directly serves and manages.
Earlier on Friday, Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone firm by revenue, reported a slight decline in quarterly organic sales in line with muted expectations and reiterated its full-year outlook. (Reporting by Franklin Paul; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)