Ma Bell gets serious about VoIP

att.103x49.headerMa Bell, a very weakened Ma Ball in all honesty, is betting that VoIP would be its white knight. Talk about an aging crone dreaming of a 20-something stud-muffin. In the quarterly conference call today, AT&T CEO Dave Dorman said that the company is selling VoIP service in 100 markets without spending anything much on marketing so far.

Thus far what we’ve done is shakedown our operating systems, our provisioning, billing, care systems, so that we can be ready to scale. We feel like we are. We have plans for promotion for the VoIP product through the second half of the year, based on achieving this rollout. So, over the course of the late summer and the fall, we will be promoting the VoIP product. At this point we’ve not built the plan for next year with respect to what we’ll spend on VOIP, or other services.

On the business side, AT&T is planning on teleworker trials during this quarter in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK.

If you think about Voice over IP as a sort of a garden start opportunity, we do believe that voice is going to grow as broadband penetration grows. It will help broadband penetration increase. It is an application layer service, so it exists in the same realm that e-mail does, search and other hosted applications that we’re familiar with from people like Yahoo, Google and the like.

And while he was swinging the bat, Dorman decided to hit one on Vonage’s knees.

I do think it also suggests that as people think about the VoIP product, where the VoIP product started out at the consumer price point has already seen price competition emerge pretty dramatically. If you’re thinking that you’re going to have a Consumer VoIP product out there that’s going to generate $40 per sub you’re probably kidding yourself. So whether you’re a cable company or you’re a telephone company I think you’ve got to reassess what the retail price point for voice services is going to be in three years and look at your investment against that and understand very carefully whether you have an asset base that can support that kind of price point.


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