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Let the bundling begin

Aug 06, 20032 mins
AT&TCellular NetworksNetwork Security

* AT&T kicks off wired/wireless service bundling

The wireless industry has begun inching its way toward bundled wireless and wired network services with the AT&T One calling plan, available through a resale agreement with AT&T Wireless.

The plan, available now in two test markets – San Diego and Tampa – combines residential long-distance and mobile voice services by allowing unlimited nighttime and weekend calling from either your residential or mobile telephone.

For a monthly fee of about $37 to $99 a month, depending on market, you get a bucket of “anytime minutes” that you can apply to your home line or mobile phone. There are four “anytime” options: 200, 550, 700 and 1100 minutes. You pay 7 cents per minute for daytime wired long-distance calls from your home phone. Local calling services are folded into the mix where available-for now, in parts of San Diego only.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating wireless/wired service bundles of a more comprehensive nature since the emergence of products called “residential gateways.” Packages could include broadband Internet access and voice services on the WAN side, plus wireless LAN equipment and multiple cordless or wireless voice-over-IP phones that run on the WLAN.

Such bundling would likely simplify and lower the cost of services not only for consumers, but also for telecommuters, particularly if an enterprise were able to out-task a company-wide teleworker setup to a service provider and negotiate a volume deal.

However, last year’s demise of the HomeRF WLAN standard, which contained provisions for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone (DECT) use over WLANs in the home (while the 802.11e standard for WLAN VoIP is still in development), did nothing to advance the home-bundling idea. In addition, service providers seem to be focusing more on getting 802.11 into public-access hot spots than reselling WLANs into the SOHO and consumer markets.

Still, says Wayne Caswell, self-proclaimed chief visionary at CAZITech Consulting Services, the AT&T service “shows the trend of bundling. Essentially, every company offering a single [network] service better start bundling or they’ll be out of business” because of the commoditization of basic voice and data services, he asserts.