One strategy to lessen access line loss is to inject it with a variety of features powered by IP, and to the extent you can, integrate those features with wireless. This is exactly the strategy AT&T is pursuing with its IP enabled U-verse Voice product.

Their latest converged feature allows U-verse voice users to interact with their home phone voicemail on their smartphone. The AT&T Voicemail Viewer app is a visual voicemail widget which presents home phone voicemail messages on a smartphone similar to an email inbox.  Subscribers can choose which message to listen to, forward them as an email, and among other things, do a one touch click to return the call. The service is currently supported for iPhone and BlackBerry use, as well as iGoogle and Windows Vista for PC versions.

This feature is one of many that AT&T has added to the U-verse Voice portfolio. Others include a unified mailbox for both home phone and wireless voicemail, call logs on the PC or TV, and click to call from the TV or PC. It’s a concerted effort to add value to the home phone line. Like other innovative service providers AT&T has decided whatever future is left in home phone service, it will probably be determined by a feature rich IP voice product, not POTS.

It’s too early to tell if the strategy will work, but early indications are encouraging.  Among the millions of access lines AT&T has lost in the past few quarters, they’ve added 750K+ U-verse Voice subscribers. Among new U-verse bundled customers, two-thirds opt to take U-verse Voice as a part of their bundle.

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