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AT&T Plans Smartphone Assault

Updated from 9:19 a.m. EDT

AT&T (T - Get Report) ramped up its smartphone strategy Monday, touting new offerings from Nokia (NOK - Get Report) and Samsung in an attempt to boost its wireless business.

The telecom giant will unveil a slew of devices at the CTIA conference in Las Vegas, including Nokia's E71x smartphone, and Samsung's Propel Pro, as well as a number of phones aimed at the 'quick messaging' market.

In addition to Propel Pro, these include full-keyboard phones such as LG's Xenon and Neon and Samsung's Impression and Magnet offerings.

Smartphones and quick messaging are helping drive AT&T's wireless growth, according to David Christopher, chief marketing officer for the firm's mobility and consumer markets

"Smartphones and quick messaging phones are no longer for early-adopters and text-happy teens," he said, in a statement. "The ability to text often, or check your email from a phone is easy and more customers demand these features."

AT&T has typically lagged behind rival Verizon (VZ - Get Report) in terms of its full-keyboard phones, although at least one analyst thinks that the Dallas, Texas-based firm is making the right moves.

"I think that they are closing that gap," said Matt Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities in Boston, Mass. "That form-factor, when you're talking to teenagers or to people that do a lot of SMS or IM'ing, is becoming very popular."

Despite seeing its wireline operation take a pounding recently, AT&T continues to see strength in next-generation phones.

Buoyed by the growth of its wireless business and the popularity of Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone, AT&T is even forecasting low single-digit revenue growth during 2009, despite an increasingly tough economy.
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