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Aggressive deployment of 4GLTE networks across U.S. and the upcoming holiday season has kept AT&T Inc.(T - Analyst Report) busy in expanding its 4GLTE-based smartphone portfolio. In tune with that, the second largest telecom operator in the country announced plans to launch Sony Corporation’s (SNE) new Xperia TL handset.

The new Android 4.0 Xperia TL, which can be upgraded to Android 4.1 (Jellybeans), is powered with 13 MP camera and capable of HD recording. It also offers 'One-touch' connectivity via NFC (Near Field Communications). The new smartphone have access to three Sony media applications and is integrated with 1.5 Ghz processor that will allow faster network speed and better graphics. Moreover, users can also watch video on their TV sets from their smartphone through MHL or DLNA technology.

Few days back AT&T had added three more LTE-based devices - Samsung Electronics Galaxy Express, Galaxy Rugby Pro and the Galaxy Note II. It also added one 4G LTE Android tablet, Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1), to its portfolio.

So, continuous addition of 4GLTE-based devices will not only expand AT&T’s 4GLTE device portfolio, but will also lend support to its 4GLTE deployment plan. The company has already covered more than 70 cities in U.S. and is expected to add 30 more cities by the end of 2012. Thus, the telecom giant is intensifying its competition against closest rival (in terms of 4GLTE deployment) and the third largest telecom carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. (S - Analyst Report). Sprint is also rolling out its 4GLTE network across its footprint at a faster pace and also holds a similar plan like AT&T to cover 100 cities by year end.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for AT&T Inc. is pegged at 63 cents for the third quarter with a growth rate estimate of 2.85%. For 2012 and 2013, the Zacks Consensus Estimates stand at $2.38 and $2.57 with a growth rate of 8.31% and 7.81%, respectively.

We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation for AT&T Inc. Currently, AT&T Inc. has a Zacks#3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating on the stock.

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