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AT&T; expands its contact center portfolio

AT&T; introduces Hosted Integrated Contact Services; discontinues CallVantage VoIP service
Convergence & VoIP Alert By Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick , Network World , 04/22/2009
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Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick offer news and analysis on the latest in IP convergence from fixed-mobile convergence, presence management, IP video and unified communications.

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AT&T last week announced that it has expanded its contact center portfolio with a new hosted service that features a shared platform using Genesys software. In another announcement, AT&T notified customers that it is discontinuing its CallVantage VoIP service in 2009.

AT&T's new Hosted Integrated Contact Services is fully managed contact center service that provides a virtual contact center hosted in an AT&T Internet Data Center. AT&T already supports Avaya, Cisco, Genesys, and Nortel contact center platforms. However using the shared and hosted capabilities enabled by the Genesys platform, AT&T now offers enterprises an alternative to dedicated equipment. 

The SMB market may find this hosted option quicker and easier to deploy that premise-based solutions, and AT&T offers “pay-for-what-you-use” pricing according to the company. Pricing ranges from $100 to $300 per month per port or seat based on options selected. Large enterprises can use the service for peak demand periods or to fill technology gaps in existing centers.

Our observations: AT&T isn’t the first company to offer a hosted contact center option - Verizon, Qwest, and XO also offer a hosted Genesys solution. However, we believe that hosted contact centers, premise-based contact centers, and a hybrid of hosted and premise-based alternatives are all options that should be considered - especially when enterprises face the complexity of integrating VoIP or unified communications features within the contact center.

In other AT&T news, the company notified its existing CallVantage customer with letters dated April 17 that it will discontinue the VoIP service this year. AT&T quietly stopped selling the CallVantage service to new customers in August 2008. CallVantage customers inside AT&T’s local service area are encouraged to contact AT&T for an alternative voice service (including legacy and U-Verse voice) while out-of-region customers who want a wireline connection are advised that other service providers are available.

Our observations: AT&T is following Verizon’s footsteps since Verizon also pulled the plug on its VoiceWing customers with a January 2009 announcement that there would be no service after April 2009. Verizon had stopped new VoiceWing sales in late 2008 and it had discontinued sales of MCI Neighborhood in late 2007. Yet VoIP supplier Vonage continues to survive with 1% growth reported from 2007 to 2008. Vonage has an opportunity to pick up a few more customers now that Verizon and AT&T have both given up on the “bring your own broadband” VoIP model.

Steve Taylor is president of Distributed Networking Associates and publisher/editor-in-chief of Webtorials. Larry Hettick is a principal analyst at Current Analysis.

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