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Summary:

All the kings men, and all the kings horses …. looks like spending millions of dollars was not enough and despite its brand name, Ma Bell could only snare up 53,000 VoIP customers. The data was revealed in an SEC filing, according to News.com. I see […]

All the kings men, and all the kings horses …. looks like spending millions of dollars was not enough and despite its brand name, Ma Bell could only snare up 53,000 VoIP customers. The data was revealed in an SEC filing, according to News.com. I see some serious spin control coming out of NJ.

AT&T spokesman Gary Morgenstern said Thursday that the current tally doesn’t reflect the last four months of CallVantage sales, nor subscribers who have ordered the service but have yet to turn it on yet. He added that the company no longer markets this or any other home service. “AT&T is focused on a rational versus irrational (advertising) spend,” Morgenstern said. “We can’t justify high cost of (customer) acquisition like some of our competitors. We prefer to be more prudent.”

Given that we are basing this on a story on News.com report, not exactly the news source of record, but still, amazingly muddled response from Ma Bell. Does this mean they are not going to be pushing CallVantage service anymore? Or does it mean, well AT&T would let new parent, SBC fight all the future (VoIP) battles. The retail VoIP space is hell, and if Ma Bell is cutting its losses right now and going wholesale, well good time to do so is now.

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  1. If you were a local operating company like SBC (or Verizon), how hard would you push VoIP?

  2. not very and won’t be surprised if they don’t. well when it is time, then they can roll it out quickly enough. i have always maintained that and DSL is a perfect example of how well they did with that technology.

  3. AT&T has previously said they won’t actively advertise for consumer customers. I see them positioning voIP as a business customer offering and that’s a long sell cycle. As other’s have said, VOIP will be more about features than just lower price. Now going forward, the plan might be for SBC to use AT&T’s VOIP technology for a consumer offering. But as Jake previously said so well – there’s no current incentive for a local loop provider sales of VOIP.

  4. I think the Bells (LECs) are going to have offer Voip sooner than they want. They face an incredibly difficult decision – cannibalize your own customer base or have the competition do it for you. Very similar to the decision that Blockbuster made regarding competing with Netflix – roll up your sleeves and compete or cede market share. The pure Voip providers like Vonage and the Cable companies will take residential share very quickly unless the Bells roll out a competitive product. I have seen this story before – when the CLECs jumped into the business market and started offering services 50% less than the Bells.

  5. there is no doubt that the bells are going to use voip but i think they will ge a little more creative. i think they will bring VoIP to the central office – and do some funky stuff to squeeze pennies out the the already amortized copper PSTN infrastructure. i personally believe that it is still early days when it comes to VoIP and a lot of people are getting too excited about it from a consumer perspective.

  6. Om, I tend to agree with your last comment. The bells will indeed sell VoIP, but it won’t be Vonage type servics. Rather it will look to the end user just like the service they get today, and will be sold as cheap as Vonage, possibly as a loss leader to drive uptake of more profitable services such as triple play.

  7. I am not comfortable in predicting what the incumbents will do, but they have a few other options that is generally not discussed in VoIP blogosphere. There is a general consensus that VoIP will be “more about features than just lower price”. Verizon has demonstrated with their iobi service that many of the VoIP features can be replicated in PSTN. So instead of deploying VoIP, they could more widely deploy iobi like service. Also currently cable telephony does not offer some of the features that iobi can deliver (even though there are technical difficulty).

  8. I am a very satisfied Callvantage customer. Hope SBC doesn’t kill it.

  9. Aswath thanks for the IOBI reminder. it seems we got so obsessed with the new technology that we forget that even dinosaurs took a million years to mutate and becoming birds or a lizard or something else. you can count on the craftiness and survival skills of Bells. God sake they have been around so long. I think cable guys will take their own sweet time rolling out their *features* for as you had reminded me at VoN – how much cable guys want to be like the phone guys

  10. CallVantage: Big Spending, Few Customers

    According to News.com, AT&T’s CallVantage service had an underwhelming 53,000 VOIP customers at the end of 2004. Om Malik provides all kinds of scenarios, including a suggestion AT&T could bail out of the retail space and focus on the wholesale market…

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