Verizon Communications Inc., one of the world's biggest telephone companies, said on Tuesday its quarterly earnings fell on merger costs but revenue rose due to strength in wireless.

Verizon, which also owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone Group Plc, said net earnings fell to $1.63 billion, or 56 cents a share from $1.76 billion, or 63 cents a share in the year-ago quarter, which excludes MCI's numbers.

Excluding unusual items Verizon said it earned 60 cents a share, compared with analyst estimates for 59 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose to $22.74 billion from $18.18 billion in the year-ago quarter before it owned MCI.

Assuming the company owned MCI in both quarters Verizon said its adjusted earnings per share fell 3.3 percent and that adjusted operating revenue increased 3.1 percent.

Verizon said Verizon Wireless added 1.7 million net new customers in the quarter compared with average estimates for 1.6 million customers from six analysts contacted by Reuters.

AT&T Inc, another large U.S. regional phone companbgy, last week reported first-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates and BellSouth Corp. posted a revenue increase of 4.5 percent the week before that.