10 Jul AT&T Challenges SBC in Wisconsin With Local, Long-Distance Bundling
MADISON, Wis. – It has been nearly two decades since Wisconsin consumers have been offered the AT&T name for residential phone service.
As the overwhelming majority of phone bills in the state are currently emblazoned with the SBC logo, now begins AT&T’s journey to convince locals to switch and stay with the telecom that offers choice from the incumbent.
AT&T, which effective Thursday began offering local phone service to everyone in the state who can currently receive an SBC dial tone, has at least one first-mover advantage that SBC can’t yet claim.
“We appreciate the head start to offering long-distance and bundling it with local,” said Kevin Crull, senior vice president of AT&T Consumer, noting that SBC cannot currently offer long-distance in Wisconsin or any other Midwest state. SBC’s battle for Midwest long-distance relief forges on with regulator and watchdog adversity.
Like with its other states, AT&T’s residential entrance in Wisconsin is made possible by renting parts of SBC’s Wisconsin network. Known by the “UNE” moniker, Crull says UNE rates in Wisconsin haven’t yet been finalized, adding that he wouldn’t be surprised if the incumbent challenged the rates when they are made concrete.
While AT&T executives declined to speculate on how much market share they might capture from SBC and by when, AT&T expects for SBC to feel a line loss. In response, Crull says SBC typically fires back with lower prices when skirmishing with a new market entrant.
Wisconsin marks AT&T residential state No. 13. AT&T has been offering local voice and data services to businesses in the Milwaukee metropolitan area and southeastern Wisconsin since 1998. Aside from Wisconsin, AT&T provides residential local service to some 3 million households in 12 other states.
In Wisconsin, AT&T cannot currently rival SBC in terms of DSL by exploiting the DSL partnership it has with Covad in other states. AT&T, of course, plans to get there down the road.
With a mass marketing campaign that will kick off in Wisconsin next week and last between eight and 12 weeks, AT&T plans to highlight a $29.95 service option that comes with unlimited local calling, caller ID and two other popular phone features.
For an additional $3.95 per month, customers can bundle their local plan with a long-distance plan for 7 cents per minute. Residential customers in Wisconsin can also opt for AT&T One Rate USA, which rivals MCI’s all-you-can-call Neighborhood plan and costs $49.95 per month for unlimited nationwide calling and four features.
In most cases, Crull says consumers who switch local residential service from SBC to AT&T should be able to keep their existing phone number. AT&T will pay all switching charges. After five months of new service in Michigan, AT&T claims to have switched 6 percent of consumers.
While AT&T is not disclosing its Wisconsin marketing spend, Crull says the telecom plans to be “highly visible” via television, radio, print and billboard advertisements. On the heels of voracious registrations to the national do-not-call list, he says AT&T will gladly save costs on telemarketing to consumers who don’t want to be called.
Adam Fendelman is Editor-in-Chief of ePrairie.com and specializes in telecommunications in the Chicago area. He can be emailed at email@example.com. This article has been syndicated on the Wisconsin Technology Network courtesy of ePrairie, a user-driven business and technology news community distributed via the Web, the wireless Web and free daily e-mail newsletters. They can be found at www.eprairie.com.