AT&T Changes Marketing Tactics Again

AT&T Changes Marketing Tactics to Embrace Wireless, Adds Cellular VPN Access

By Tara Seals

AT&T Inc. on Wednesday took the first steps to more fully integrate wireless into its sales and marketing bundles. Essentially, AT&T is refocusing its marketing engine post-BellSouth merger, to sell a unified wireless-wireline portfolio. For instance, a combined salesforce will offer both wireless and wireline service, rather than the two arms of the business remaining separate entities.

Billing convergence will be the next step; the RBOC said the full suite of both portfolios will be available on a single contract for midsized and large business by the end of the year. Also, customers may be able to make a single revenue commitment that includes both wireline and wireless calling volumes, resulting in wireline service discounts, and customers wireline calls could receive special on-net rates when calling other AT&T wireless or wireline business users.

AT&T is also packaging up service bundles for small businesses. A quadruple-play package of integrated local, long-distance, data and wireless services will become available in the company's 22-state local service region later this year.

The Cingular Wireless portfolio is being fully thrown open to businesses now, too. Midsized and large business customers will be able to purchase any wireless service, plan or device offered by the wireless carrier. Until now, only certain plans or devices were available to AT&T business customers as part of an integrated offer.

Today's announcement is not all sales repositioning, however. The company is also dipping into the fixed-mobile convergence waters with a new application: cellular access to corporate AT&T VPNs. Remote and mobile workers can use Wi-Fi or AT&T's wireless data service to access their company's VPN, business applications and corporate information.

That application comes on the heels of news that AT&T and Cisco Systems Inc. will bundle up the AT&T Wireless WAN Connectivity Service and the new Cisco 3G-Enabled Wireless WAN High-Speed WAN Interface Card (HWIC) for routers. The wireless module is enabled for AT&T?s UMTS/HSDPA-based BroadbandConnect service, targeted at companies that need diverse broadband backup, work in ad hoc situations such as construction sites, work in rural areas and the like. On a broader level, it helps extend the reach of the WAN and enables greater convergence for the delivery of unified communications across a variety of networks.

The move to embrace wireless more fully is simply a result of demand, the company said. As of Dec. 31, revenue from AT&T's enterprise wireless business customers has experienced double-digit growth, compared with the previous six quarters, driven by strong demand from companies that are increasing their spend for wireless and mobility solutions.

And according to a Forrester Research survey, 60 percent of companies polled said that they would spend more money on wireless technology in

2006 versus 2005. Wireless spending will account for 28 percent of their total telecom budgets.

"Our latest service plans and access offerings underscore AT&T's continued commitment to combining increasingly sophisticated enterprise networking solutions with service plans that allow our customers to generate immediate, bottom-line business benefits through fast and reliable access to information and solutions that are customized to meet their unique needs," said Bill Archer, AT&T's senior vice president of product management. "Our recent acquisition of BellSouth Corp. and the consolidation of Cingular Wireless has significantly expanded the types of advanced communications services that we can offer to customers, and we look forward to extending our mobile capabilities in 2007."

AT&T Inc.

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Tara Seals
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