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AT&T Rings Alarm Bells

Shares tumble after the telco giant's CEO suggests a slowdown.

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

is feeling the pinch as consumer spending dips amid hotter competition in its core phone business.

The nation's largest telco said it is seeing "softness" in its consumer business, while business services remain stable. The comments came during a presentation by CEO Randall Stephenson at Citi's Media and Technology Conference in Phoenix Tuesday.

The news blindsided investors, who quickly sent AT&T shares down 10%.

AT&T has seen numerous customers flee to cable companies like

Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report

and

Time Warner Cable

(TWC)

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, which have been making strong inroads with rival phone service plans.

The company also has been a disappointment on the video front with its U-Verse offering. The network makeover project promised to add compelling video service to its service bundle, but the product has hit some challenges.

Without a compelling triple play bundle, AT&T is feeling outgunned in some markets, say analysts.

Late last year, AT&T was very interested in acquiring

EchoStar

(DISH) - Get DISH Network Corporation Class A Report

, the Dish network operator, as a quicker way to execute a national video strategy. Those

plans ultimately deteriorated.

Telco rival

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report

has turned a corner on its own costly video project with solid growth and diminishing expenses. Verizon shares were also knocked down on the AT&T news, falling $2.01 to $40.91 Tuesday.