The competition: WiFi connections leading the way as AT&T expands wireless presence

AT&T (NYSE: T) , as it has long maintained, is no longer a traditional telephone company. Broadband wireless (e.g. the iPhone) and U-Verse video entertainment were important elements of the company's second quarter earnings but even more tellingly, AT&T said it saw a number of connections to its WiFi network. The carrier said it handled 68.1 million calls in the second quarter compared to 15 million calls in the second quarter a year ago.

On the more traditional broadband business side, AT&T said it lost 347,000 traditional DSL customers but added 209,000 more valuable U-Verse subs during the period as well as 1.6 million wireless subscribers, 896,000 of whom used embedded devices--many of which are equipped with WiFi.

"The extraordinary growth in WiFi usage is yet another indication of customers' reliance on mobile broadband and the many benefits that venues receive by making WiFi available to their customers and employees," Angie Wiskocil, senior VP, AT&T WiFi Services said in a news release.

Cable, too, has taken steps to increase its WiFi visibility, most notably in the New York metro region where Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWC-WI) have banded together with Cablevision Systems to create an ever-enveloping cloud of WiFi connectivity.

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