AT&T's decision to stop marketing long-distance service to consumers raises questions for the company's customers.
QIf I'm an AT&T customer, will I have to switch my phone service?
ANo. AT&T said it remains committed to serving its roughly 35 million residential customers even though it won't be seeking new ones. Of its customers, 30 million have stand-alone long-distance service, while 4.7 million have bundled local and long-distance service.
If I want to sign up for AT&T service, will I be able to?
Yes. AT&T said it will continue to accept customers who ask to sign up for the company's service. AT&T spokesman Robert Nersesian said the company expects to continue attracting customers even after it stops marketing. "When you've got a brand as powerful as AT&T's, people will come," he said.
How will AT&T's decision to stop competing for new customers affect prices?
Consumer groups warned yesterday that AT&T's exit could result in customers paying more in the long run because there will be one less competitor to drive down prices. "We fear that recent discounts of 20 to 30 percent for packages of local and long-distance service will dry up as a result of AT&T's decision," Gene Kimmelman, director of the Washington office of Consumers Union, said in a statement. Nersesian would not say whether AT&T will try to match competitors' offers to keep its existing customers.
Will AT&T continue to offer its Internet phone service to consumers?
Yes. AT&T CallVantage service, which relies on high-speed Internet connections rather than the traditional phone network, is available in 100 major markets, including the Washington area. AT&T will continue to market the Internet service to consumers, unlike its regular phone service, though it may do so through partnerships with retailers rather than in direct pitches, Nersesian said. Internet phone service is not yet considered as reliable as conventional phone service, and customers need a broadband connection to use it.
How will AT&T make money now?
The company will rely on its business services division, which is where AT&T already gets more than 70 percent of its revenue.
-- Griff Witte