AT&T is leveraging their broadband wireless capability with DSL service to provide a converged broadband to go service. Branded as AT&T Net Reach, the new $79.95/month service targets laptop carrying customers with seamless access to Wi-Fi, 3G wireless, and home DSL/Wi-Fi service. Net Reach provides a laptop broadband connection manager that automatically connects with the strongest available broadband service among AT&T’s 17,0000 Wi-Fi hotspots, 3G GSM wireless network, or the customer’s home broadband service (via a home wireless network). Conceivably, customers won’t know (or care) which network they’re connected to – they’ll just be connected to broadband. Customers must opt-in to unified billing of wireline and wireless services.
The strategy makes great competitive sense. It creates competitive differentiation between AT&T and their cable competitors. It’s a great example of how telecom carriers can leverage their wireless advantage. But for how long? Cable will soon catch up. Between Cablevision’s (granted they don’t compete directly with AT&T) pending launch of a mesh Wi-Fi network and cable’s involvement in the Clearwire WiMAX joint venture, the cable industry will soon try to flex some broadband wireless muscle of their own.