AT&T Debuts U-Verse Voice VoIP Service

Following a limited launch in late December, AT&T debuted its new digital voice service, U-Verse Voice, in Detroit today.

The service, which is available only to residential customers, is delivered over AT&T's U-Verse Internet Protocol (IP) network and will be available in additional regions and markets throughout 2008. AT&T says the service stands out from traditional VoIP lines—U-Verse Voice is sent over the company's own network, rather than the public Internet, where it says many VoIP providers funnel their calls. The company claims the use of its own network, not the public Internet, will make for more clear, uninterrupted calls.

U-Verse Voice joins the rest of AT&T's featured product lineup: U-Verse TV, broadband, and wireless. The VoIP service integrates with the rest of these services into the U-Verse Voice plan, which stores a user's data into management portals for future reference. Two service plans are available to subscribers: U-Verse Voice Unlimited ($40 a month) and U-Verse Voice 1000 ($30 a month), but users must first purchase the AT&T U-Verse TV, or, in certain areas, the AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet U-Verse Enabled.

In addition to traditional calling services, U-Verse Voice also comes loaded with six new features. The online management portal operates as a central hub for users to access voicemails, store contact information, call histories, and call preferences from a PC. From the online portal, customers can also forward voicemails and other messages. U-Verse TV also plays a role in the system. Users can view a list of the 500 most recent calls from their TV screens, as well as use the U-Verse TV remote to operate the company's "Click-To-Call" feature, which allows end users to connect a call to a number using point-and-click functions.

AT&T now enters the VoIP arena, facing other consumer providers whose quality levels have not yet earned high-grade quality rankings. In a recent study published by Keynote Competitive Group, only two of the 10 VoIP companies offered 100 percent availability to users. Despite that low rate, however, overall VoIP quality has improved. In 2005, the lowest mean opinion score for an individual carrier was 2.96; today, that company's score rose to 3.06.

AT&T's previous, and only other VoIP service, CallVantage, is still offered, but comes at a lower cost than U-Verse Voice, and requires data travel over the public Internet.

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