Telecommunications dinosaur AT&T (news
quote) recently announced that it will take a bite out of the
voice over IP (VoIP) (define
alert - tutorial)
pie by launching a service that will enable customers to use the hot
technology at home. CallVantage was rolled out during late March, and the
company has just expanded the coverage area by 10 additional states.
CallVantage�s service expansion has reached the areas
of Washington, D.C.; Wilmington, Del.; Indianapolis and Muncie, Ind.;
Kansas City, Kan.; Baltimore; Minneapolis/St. Paul; St. Louis; Charlotte,
Greensboro and Raleigh, N.C.; Omaha, Neb.; Allentown and Philadelphia,
Pa.; and Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; with the addition of
the new coverage areas of Jersey City, Monmouth and Trenton, N.J.; Albany,
Buffalo, Glens Falls, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica-Rome, N.Y. It is in
AT&T�s plans to reach 100 markets by the end of September 2004.
�[These] market entries, place us in 22 states and 72
major markets in just 14 weeks since service introduction,� said Cathy
Martine, AT&T senior vice president for Internet Telephony, Consumer
Marketing and Sales. �AT&T already provides traditional residential local
service to more than 4.3 million households nationwide, but AT&T
CallVantage Service marks the beginning of an exciting new era in voice
communications that gives customers a compelling new choice.�
While services like CallVantage might be expected to
replace legacy telephone services in the future, it is unclear if VoIP
providers like AT&T could reach those customers that are unable to afford
costly high-speed ISP services. Despite the fact that a growing number of
households have access to these broadband connections through their cable
or local telephone company, only about one in five subscribe nationally.
According to data from TNS Telecoms, broadband penetration in the markets
entered today averages a little lower at 18.1 percent.
Joining the Race of the Pricing Packages
VoIP�s trendy technology has set off the creation of
new companies like Vonage (news
alert), BroadVoice, Packet 8, and the likes, which offer very
competitive at-home VoIP calling packages. AT&T has entered the space with
a six-month introductory rate of $19.99 a month (normally $34.99) through
August 31, 2004. The promotional rate includes a complete calling solution
that provides unlimited local and long-distance domestic calling,
including calls to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, discount rates
for international calling, and a suite of advanced features.
The company will offer AT&T CallVantage customers an
opportunity to participate in its program that provides up to one month of
free service (maximum of 12 months) for each referral and sale, where
permissible by state law. To date, the service is generally available to
consumers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,
Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington state.
Legacy Features Gone Hi-Tech
Through the use of IP-based networks, VoIP calling
services also offer customers typical features such as call waiting,
three-way calling, and call forwarding, just as legacy telephone service
plans do, and far more advanced ones as well.
CallVantage will provide customers with innovative
- �Call Logs,� to track incoming and outgoing;
- �Do Not Disturb,� to receive calls only when
- �Locate Me,� which rings up to five phones, all at
once, or sequentially;
- �Voicemail with eFeatures,� to listen to messages
from any phone or PC and forward them to anyone on the Web; and
- �Personal Conferencing,� to set up meetings with
up to nine additional callers.
Last month, the company announced the first in an
ongoing series of service innovations including the addition of an online,
searchable �Phone Book.� This new feature enables customers to store up to
250 names and phone numbers on their Personal Call Manager homepage with
All that is required for the at-home service is a
plug-in telephone adapter (TA) provided by AT&T, a broadband Internet
connection and regular telephone supplied by the customer. The company
states that the service is simple to use and easy for consumers to
install�typically in 10 minutes. AT&T CallVantage Service works with most
cable modem or digital subscriber line (DSL) broadband connections. The TA
is compatible with most home computer networks and may be used in
conjunction with various home network routers. And, the adapter can be
used from almost any location where there is a telephone and a broadband
connection. That gives customers the ability to stay connected by taking
this service with them when they travel.
For more information on VoIP services and why some
customers are switching between various providers of these services, check
out Why I�m Switching From Vonage Back To AT&T by Rich Tehrani (Internet
Telephony July 2004 issue) at
Johanne Torres is the Assistant Editor for TMCnet.com and Internet
Telephony magazine. Previously, she was the Assistant Editor for EContent
magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.