AT&T Inc plans to sell 20 phones with high-speed Web surfing this year including 12 phones running Google Inc software in its biggest push yet to lessen its dependence on Apple Inc's iPhone.
AT&T, which has been the exclusive U.S. provider for iPhone since 2007, is expected to face tough competition early this year as bigger rival Verizon Wireless is seen kicking off sales of the popular cellphone.
AT&T said at an event ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show that the 20-phone lineup would include Google Android devices from Motorola Inc, HTC Corp and Samsung Electronics Co. By comparison, it announced five new smartphones at last year's CES.
AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. mobile provider, also said it would sell a tablet computer from Motorola but declined to elaborate. The two Motorola announcements suggested a shift in industry allegiances as Motorola has recently been the key phone maker for Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc.
AT&T's president and head of mobility, Ralph de la Vega, also vowed on Wednesday to speed up AT&T's plan for upgrading its network with LTE, a high-speed technology already offered by rival Verizon. The AT&T LTE launch is scheduled for the middle of 2011.
De la Vega said his company expects to have its national LTE high-speed upgrade largely complete by the end of 2013 and promised the first LTE phones in the second half of this year.
Motorola said its Atrix 4G phone will attach to a laptop so consumers can take advantage of the bigger screen for Web browsing or using videos.
AT&T also said it plans to sell a high-speed phone from HTC called Inspire 4G and a phone called Infuse from Samsung. It said the Infuse would be its thinnest phone at 9 millimeters and would sport its largest display, a 4.5 inch screen.
AT&T shares were up 0.5 percent at $30.02 on Wednesday afternoon.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Maureen Bavdek and Matthew Lewis)