AT&T Finally Bundles VoIP & Wireless Cell Phone Service

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AT&T Finally Bundles VoIP & Wireless Cell Phone Service

According to USA Today, AT&T is promoting their CallVantage VoIP service by bundling their cellphone service along with AT&T CallVantage, a broadband VoIP landline replacement service. AT&T Wireless users can add CallVantage for $19.99 monthly, a $5 discount.
I've written about "pure VoIP players" vs. carriers & cable MSOs in the past, including my Death Knell for Vonage, Net2Phone, Packet8, Broadvoice, Lingo? article which I wrote about back in 2004. In that article I argued that Tier 1 carriers could offer advanced features that single-play service providers Vonage, Packet8, Lingo, etc. could not offer, such as "bundling" various services.

Ironically, also back in 2004, I excoriated AT&T for their "deal with the devil" - namely cable companies. I just didn't see the point of AT&T striking a deal with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Charter. Funny, you never hear about that partnership these days. I wonder how that's going for AT&T. [sarcasm] All of these cable operators offer their own voice services, so I still don't see the point of that 2004 deal. AT&T back in 2004 already offered landline PSTN service, broadband DSL, and had a minor "wireless cellular" footprint (one of the smaller wireless carriers). So why use the competition's network when you can use your own, right?

In any event, 3 years later, FINALLY AT&T is leveraging their own network to offer bundled services. I, along with many other pundits argued the carriers should have offered bundled packages years ago, but they were obviously trying to not cannibalize their revenue. But with so much competition, perhaps now was the time to offer bundled packages.

Of course, AT&T only recently acquired Cingular which gave them a much larger wireless customer base. Now, in addition to free voice minutes between Cingular Wireless customers to AT&T landline customers, you can also get a discounted CallVantage service. I am assuming this offer extends to CallVantage as well and not just AT&T's traditional PSTN/landline service.

Don't worry too much my "pure play VoIP company friends" (Vonage, Packet8, SunRocket) - as I wrote here, you still have some competitive advantages over all this bundling finally going on with the major carriers and MSOs. For one, the phone companies and cable companies always find a way to screw you price-wise with additional add-on fees.

Update 5/3/07
A reader emailed me to tell me that this deal does NOT apply to AT&T CallVantage users:
The free voice minutes between Cingular Wireless customers to AT&T landline customers does not extend to CallVantage customers. I have both and I talked to customer support yesterday and confirmed it. Still $19.95 for phone service that is as reliable as any landline (Running on Comcast)With crystal clear quality is pretty sweet. (No I don't work for AT&T just reflecting on 2 years of experience with the AT&T CallVantage service)

What a bummer. When are the carriers going to offer COMPLETE and comprehensive converged services? C'mon already!

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