Wind Mobile, an upstart wireless carrier which operates in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto, announced today it had gained 39,000 new customers in the first quarter. Wind Mobile now has about 271,000 customers.

That increase was down substantially from the 92,960 new subscribers the company picked up in the fourth quarter of 2010 but still very strong for what is traditionally a weak quarter for new additions.

How strong was it? Well in the first quarter of 2001, Rogers Wireless gained 35,000 new wireless customers, Bell Mobility gained 5,292 subscribers and Telus Mobility gained 32,000 customers.

That means Wind Mobile, which operates in five cities, added more new subscribers in the first quarter of 2011 than either Bell, Rogers or Telus, who operate nationally.

Collectively the Big three added 119,625 in the first quarter of 2010. In 2011 that number was 72,292, down 47,333 or 39.5% from the same quarter of 2010. The gains at Wind Mobile then account for about 80% of the big three's decline in new subscribers during the first quarter of 2011.

Subscriber gains in the first quarter at other new wireless providers - Videotron, Public Mobile and Mobilicity - have not been published but it’s likely their gains plus the gains at Wind Mobile would exceed the Big Three's year over year losses. This suggests that nationally the number of new wireless subscribers was the same in the first quarter of 2011 as it was in the first quarter of 2010 so the declines at the Big Three are directly attributable to the new wireless entrants rather than a slowdown in the growth of wireless subscribers.

Although Digital Home can't verify, Wind claims, that within the five markets it operates in, the company had more than a 50% share of new subscribers.

The following chart, compiled by Digital Home, shows the number of new subscribers at the Big Three Canadian wireless companies and Wind over the last five quarters. (blanks are where data is not available)

In reviewing the chart, it’s clear that Bell, Rogers and Telus all saw weaker new subscription numbers in the first quarter of 2011 than in the first quarter of 2010. In addition, the drop-off in new subscriber growth from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011 was much greater at Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Discuss Wind Mobile in Digital Home's Alternate Wireless Phone providers forum.