AT&T announced the launch of AT&T U-verse Voice, a VoIP powered primary line service for their U-Verse triple play bundle. The service was launched formally today in the Detroit market after trials began in December. The voice service is priced at $40/month for unlimited calling or $20/month for 1,000 long distance minutes, or can be bundled for lesser rates. By using VoIP, AT&T is integrating several convergence features into their triple play package, including an online call manager portal, unified messaging, click to call from the TV, and the simultaneous ring of up to four separate telephone numbers. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of the AT&T CallVantage VoIP service, which appears to be on its way out (or at least relegated to an unmarketed service).
This is an interesting development on a couple of fronts. One is the positioning of this voice product, which clearly is designed to meet cable voice products head on. AT&T is trying to create a “next generation” voice product with next generation features to counter the successful positioning of cable “digital voice” products. Cable’s strategy has been to create voice products with better features and unlimited calling that trump the “stodgy, old” local phone company’s boring POTS service. Secondly, AT&T is testing the concept of an all IP network, which has been the subject of many a PowerPoint presentation, but has seen little traction with incumbent telephone companies. By leveraging an all IP infrastructure, AT&T hopes to lower operational costs and leverage innovation for a more “digital” experience with their products. Convergence is easier with an all IP network and AT&T is testing the waters with this launch and with launches to come. Stay tuned.