AT&T to Launch Residential VOIP
CEO Dave Dorman will flesh out the carrier's plans at Credit Suisse First Boston Corp.'s Media and Telecom Conference in New York today.
AT&T will kick off its residential push in the first quarter of the year in select metropolitan markets. The operator is currently upgrading its network on the West Coast and is due to complete this work in the first quarter. When that upgrade is complete, the carrier says it will be able to launch VOIP services in the top 100 markets in the U.S.
Dorman has put Cathy Martine, currently a senior VP in the consumer division, in charge of the strategy. She has overseen an employee VOIP trial and several consumer trials AT&T has undertaken in the past few months, during which consumers were offered unlimited local and long-distance services. AT&T says the success of the trials has resulted in today's more expansive announcement.
AT&T's news follows in the wake of announcements from Time Warner Telecom Inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC) and Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), and come as VOIP service specialist Vonage Holdings Corp. ramps up its expansion plans. In addition to Qwest's residential push, the RBOCs are also taking VOIP to the small business market in 2004. (See Time Warner Delivers Phone Service, Qwest Jumps Into VOIP Hotbed, Vonage Raises $35M, and RBOC VOIP Coming in 2004.)
All these announcements come as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ponders how it should deal with the regulation of VOIP; as VOIP traffic continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace; and as Europe catches the bug. (See FCC's Powell: Let VOIP Be, Study Says VOIP Traffic Growth Slowing, and BT Gets Aggressive With VOIP.)
VOIP calling can be attractive because of its price, and proponents say the quality of calls, though not perfect, is improving. Those trying international VOIP calls tend to have more troubles with call quality and, unlike traditional voice service, VOIP service isn't available when there is an electricity outage.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch