If you're a business, AT&T has good news for you: It's rolling out the first set of integrated wireline and wireless services. The products are a result of AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth last year. The carrier says it's responding to customer demand for wireless technology, which accounted for about 30% of total telecom budgets last year, according to
- Discounts when businesses bundle their wireless and wireline services from AT&T and purchase them through single salesperson.
- A small business package that combines local, long distance, data, and wireless services.
- Ability to purchase any wireless service or mobile device offered by AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular). Previously, only a limited number of plans and devices were offered to business customers as part of an integrated offer.
- A new service that manages wired and wireless broadband connections when employees work remotely and need access to the corporate network. Using the service, employees can connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) via wireline, Wi-Fi, or cellular.
The next step for AT&T, as well as other carriers, is to improve the quality of their voice and data services. The carriers don't want to admit it, but many customers still suffer from dropped calls and dead spots where cell signals aren't available. In 2005, people filed over 31,000 complaints about cellular services with the U.S. Better Business Bureaus. In 2007, I still can't get a cellular signal in my six-story apartment building, and if I do manage to make a call, the static is awful.
Integrated wireline and wireless services are definitely a must, but this quality issue doesn't seem to go away, so we have to keep reminding the carriers that they have to make it a priority. I'm sure businesses and consumers would agree.
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