AT&T to Improve Services

$500M investment to 'raise industry bar' on customer service; will extend corporate intranets to WiFi hotspots at airports and hotels

June 3, 2003

5 Min Read

ATLANTA -- AT&T Chairman & CEO David Dorman today announced wide-ranging programs underway to set a new industry benchmark for improving customer service, and the deployment of global integrated networking solutions that includes secure access to AT&T services from WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) hot spots at airports and hotels.

“While the rest of the industry has been distracted, AT&T has quietly focused on raising the industry bar to improve the customer experience and delivering next-generation networking solutions that companies need to run their business,” Dorman said in his keynote address at the SUPERCOMM® 2003 conference here today.

“From ordering and provisioning to maintenance and billing, nearly all aspects of customer experience in the telecom industry have been broken for more than 20 years,” he said.

In 2003, AT&T is spending $500 million* to significantly improve customer experience. The company is dramatically simplifying its contracts, slashing provisioning time, improving billing accuracy, and rolling out powerful electronic servicing capabilities, such as linking customers’ computers directly into AT&T’s network-support systems. Additionally, the company announced that within a year Frame Relay customers will be able to implement network-based Internet Protocol Virtual Private Networks (IP-VPNs) using AT&T BusinessDirect™ web-based tools to self-provision services within one hour.

AT&T is accelerating the drive to consolidate its legacy networks into a single global IP infrastructure (a Multi Protocol Label Switching or MPLS-based network over an intelligent optical core) by 2005. Through its advanced IP network, AT&T will provide the underlying security, messaging and directory capabilities on a global scale so businesses can run applications (e.g., Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning) from different vendors and have it all work in an integrated networking environment – changing the very core of traditional networking.

Today’s announced initiatives include:

  • Simplified Contracts -- By the end of summer, AT&T will offer a simplified contract structure that enables customers to order all AT&T services on a global basis under a single Master Services Agreement that is clear, concise and fair. Customers who are willing to work with AT&T in seeking balanced agreements should see their negotiating cycle cut by half.

  • New Wireless Access -- In 2003, AT&T will extend its business customers’ secure corporate intranets to Wi-Fi hotspots at airports and hotels nationwide. By enabling WiFi access to AT&T services like Business Internet Service and VPN Tunneling Service, business travelers will be able to easily link into their corporate applications and secure data from multiple public locations. WiFi access to AT&T’s secure network services will be expanded to global airports and hotels throughout 2004.

  • Near Real-Time IP-VPN Deployment – Within a year, Frame Relay customers using web-based tools (see E-Capabilities below) will be able to self-provision a network-based IP-VPN within one hour.

  • E-capabilities -- Building upon capabilities introduced over the last 24 months with AT&T BusinessDirect’s single, unified portal capability, AT&T is rolling out enhanced sales and servicing tools that enable business customers worldwide to order, manage and monitor their networking services in real time. Many customers now have access to detailed network information and “hands-on” control of their services using interactive voice, web and other technologies. Through AT&T BusinessDirect, AT&T currently offers Electronic Bonding capabilities that link a large enterprise customer’s computers, purchasing, inventory, maintenance and accounting systems directly into AT&T’s provisioning, repair and billing computer systems -- ensuring faster and more accurate service delivery and billing.

“By directly linking to our customer’s automated systems and processes, AT&T is taking a major leap forward from the traditional customer/vendor paradigm to a strategic and trusted partner that helps a company ensure business-flow continuity, manage network complexity, realize higher returns on investment and improve productivity,” Dorman said.

For example, annual productivity for circuit-related support improved more than 100 percent with AT&T’s Electronic Bonding capability at Metavante Corporation, a Milwaukee-based financial services technology provider with more than 5,100 customers including some of the nation’s largest banks. In the first year of using AT&T BusinessDirect E-Bonding, Metavante’s network maintenance department doubled its output with fewer staff members. Within the next year, AT&T will elevate the electronic bonding capability by linking large enterprise customers’ computer systems directly into AT&T’s network-support systems so new service requests will simultaneously activate all of the associated billing, provisioning, inventory and maintenance records.

“AT&T is leading the charge to improve customer experience through innovation and targeted investment,” Dorman said. “AT&T’s process improvements will enable other customers like Metavante to drive their own process optimization – unlocking the full value of business applications across their suppliers, partners, employees and customers.”

Using actual customer data, AT&T conservatively estimates companies will realize an average 15 percent to 25 percent return on communications investment through improved networking performance by using AT&T’s managed solutions (including managed hosting and high availability business continuity services). Additionally, customers using AT&T’s IP VPN services with global deployments are expected to realize a total cost of ownership return on investment ranging between 10 percent and 25 percent versus “do it yourself” implementations.

Today’s announcement underscores the seriousness of AT&T’s commitment and efforts to reinforce the company’s standing as the industry’s leading provider of sophisticated, integrated networking services for business customers, while raising the industry’s overall standard for serving customers. AT&T recently announced strategic alliances with Cisco Systems and Siebel Systems, Inc., to deliver end-to-end solutions, and last week the company announced significant additions to its business continuity services portfolio, which is a clear industry differentiator. The company also is aggressively expanding its leadership position among small and mid-sized business customers -- including doubling resources to that segment and increasing the number of access lines to 1.5 million by year-end.

“In today’s industry, no other company has the means or scale to deploy comparably these kinds of services, solutions and support to meet customers’ end-to-end global networking needs,” Dorman said. “Bottom line, AT&T is uniquely positioned to help companies transform their business models, while enabling them to cope more effectively with the pressures of today’s challenging economic environment.”

AT&T Corp.

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