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AT&T Gives The Midsize Biz Something To Be Happy About: Unified Messaging

AT&T's unified messaging product has been available to small businesses for about three years. AT&T has scaled the product for medium-sized businesses and supports up to 100 access lines. Now slightly bigger companies will know the joy of the single in-box.
AT&T's unified messaging product has been available to small businesses for about three years. AT&T has scaled the product for medium-sized businesses and supports up to 100 access lines. Now slightly bigger companies will know the joy of the single in-box.The idea makes so much sense I can't fathom why it isn't more universally used. A single in-box. One place for all your messages (wireless andwireline voice mail, e-mail, and faxes) to reside. For the desk-bound office jockey, this means fewer trips to the fax machine and access to all messages from any touch-tone phone or Internet connection. Allowing workers to retrieve, reply to, and forward messages from a single source will save time and ease the pain of working both at the office and on the road.

Since messages can be checked from one source, there will no longer be the need to check both voice mail and e-mail. Checking one will automatically provide access to both sets of messages.

AT&T is offering five flavors of the service, ranging from entry-level features for the simple worker to advanced auto-attendant and faxing features for power users who send and receive a high volume of calls and faxes. It features a text-to-speech conversion tool, which lets people listen to their e-mails from a phone or read their voice mails through their PCs. It also has a message indicator system that will send specific alerts to whichever device or platform the user wishes.

AT&T is far from the only company working on unified messaging. Several months ago Microsoft and Nortel announced an initiative to offer unified messaging. Nokia and Avaya also offer their own version of UM.

One bummer about AT&T's product is that the service isn't available to all small or medium businesses. It is limited to those organizations that fall in its 13-state local service area. Pricing will also vary from state to state.

Still, small steps forward are better than no steps at all.