RealTime IT News

AT&T Dials-In New VoIP Markets

AT&T added consumer Voice over Internet Protocol service in 10 more states. The company is betting that the technology will help it overcome long-distance losses and regulatory setbacks.

The carrier's CallVantage offering debuted in March and is available in 72 markets in 22 states. AT&T wants to be in 100 markets by the end of September.

"We're pretty optimistic about hitting (100 markets) in a timely fashion," AT&T spokesman Tom Hopkins said.

New coverage areas include cities in Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The service is also on in Washington, D.C., and several cities in New Jersey and New York.

Hopkins declined to identify the next markets for CallVantage, or whether AT&T would raise its goal.

The rollout is part of an aggressive VoIP push. Earlier this month, AT&T announced testing of a new enterprise VoIP offering in Asia and Europe this fall in advance of a 2005 launch.

It also expects to introduce a U.S. version of business offering for small office and home office users built on the CallVantage platform.

In recent years, AT&T has seen long-distance revenues erode as customers switched to regional providers moving into the long-distance business, wireless carriers, and more recently VoIP service providers like Vonage.

AT&T was also hit with regulatory gut-punch after the Bush administration refused to appeal a court decision striking down rules that forced Baby Bells to provide discounted access to their competitors, including AT&T. AT&T's appeal to the Supreme Court for a stay was denied.

In light of the regulatory shift, AT&T said it would stop pursuing new local and long-distance residential customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington.

A report in today's Wall Street Journal said the company is preparing to take similar action in other states and has told outsourcers, such as call center operators, of the decision.

AT&T's Hopkins declined comment on the report.