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AT&T Plans Smartphone Assault

AT&T puts its faith in smartphones and quick messaging.

Updated from 9:19 a.m. EDT


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ramped up its smartphone strategy Monday, touting new offerings from


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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


'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

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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


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iPhone, AT&T is even


low single-digit revenue growth during 2009, despite an increasingly tough economy.

During its recent fourth quarter, for example, AT&T added 2.1 million wireless subscribers to reach a total customer base of 77 million, 7 million more than the same period last year.

Whereas the Blackberry Storm is the jewel in Verizon's crown, AT&T continues to champion the iPhone, and is even rumored to be offering iPhones

without mandatory two-year service contracts

. The telecom firm is also waiving activation fees, according to company communications obtained by



AT&T shares fell 84 cents, or 3.2%, to close at $25.16 Monday.