AT&T Anticipates Record Smartphone Sales in 4Q

While customers may not be happy with their AT&T (NYSE:T) service, it hasn’t stopped them from buying smartphones from the carrier.

AT&T is headed toward a record-breaking quarter of smartphone sales with October and November numbers hitting 6 million smartphone sales already, according to AT&T Chief Financial Office John Stephens. With December historically a strong month, AT&T should break the 6.1 million sales record for the year’s final quarter.

What’s contributing to the record sales? Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone 4S. Many AT&T customers waited to upgrade to the new phone. and five days after the phone debuted, the wireless carrier activated more than 1 million of them.

This has exceeded analysts fourth quarter forecasts. J.P. Morgan (NYSE:JPM) analysts expect AT&T to add around 450,000 new postpaid subscribers, coming in behind Verizon Communication’s (NYSE:VZ) anticipated 1.2 million subscribers and Sprint’s (NYSE:S) 250,000.

In addition, AT&T’s fourth quarter postpaid subscribers will include 36% as iPhone users with 57% of phone sales coming from sales of this vs 33% in the previous quarter.

Looking ahead, AT&T will continue with its 4G plans, looking to introduce LTE in more markets this year such as New York City, with a lofty goal of 70 million people by year’s end. It has already debuted its 4G-capable LG Nitro HD Android phone.

AT&T’s competitor, Verizon entered the LTE market with 160 million Americans in August (representing almost half of the nation) and looks to reach out to more markets. AT&T has still surpassed Sprint, who looks to reach 120 million people by the end of 2012.