There are few, if any, bigger names in American telecommunications than AT&T, so it makes nothing but sense for them to get involved in the sector that may be the future of telephony. Of course, a strong level of performance in the traditional, “copper wire” market is no guarantee of future performance in a more modern market. A world-class marathon runner may not be the greatest sprinter. In that light, it is worth looking at AT&T’s performance as a VoIP provider. Does their innate knowledge of telecommunications come through in the new system?
Cost: It is certainly worth noting that AT&T includes less features in its basic plan than most other providers. Perhaps not unconnected to its history in the copper wire market, things that are considered “add-ons” in that market – but which are usually given away by VoIP competitors – are considered by AT&T to be paid-for special features. It is a little surprising. You don’t garner the kind of market share that has been achieved by this company in the traditional market without some business sense, but AT&T seem to have made the mistake of thinking about VoIP the same way that they think about the copper wire system – and to make matters worse their basic plans aren’t even that cheap. Newbies such as Voipo have them beaten here. This results in a mark of 6/10.
Ease of Installation: You won’t have to do much work to install the system. In fact, you won’t have to do any at all because the company gives no installation instructions at all, merely giving you the opportunity to arrange an appointment for one of the company’s experts to come out and install it for you. What’s good about this is that you know the system will be installed correctly and you won’t have to worry about making a mistake. What is not do good is that you have to wait for the expert to come out, and you cannot start making calls when you sign up. If you are impatient to get started, AT&T absolutely is not the company for you. For this reason, 7/10 is really the best that we can do.
Tech Support: For any company at the top of the tree, customer service is an absolutely vital consideration – if you cannot provide a decent level of support to your customers you will lose your top-dog status as quickly as you can blink. The good news here is that from a point of view of technical support AT&T are hard to fault. The FAQ section on the website is detailed and informative. There are plenty of user guides and tutorials to help you get more out of the system. Troubleshooting is made a lot easier by their intuitive system, and you are empowered to fix faults yourself with a handy Self Support tool. If you aren’t confident with all of this and need to speak to a representative, you can call them or use the Live Chat system. It’s all very impressive. 9/10.
Quality of Voice Service: As you might expect, AT&T provides a sterling level of voice service; this is something they have been doing for a very long time on the standard phone systems and they have transferred it well to their VoIP service. There is no reason to worry about voice calls dropping out or sounding fuzzy. It is all as clear as a bell and reliable. While AT&T may have dropped the ball slightly on other matters, there is no doubting the fact that when something is a more traditional aspect, they get it right because they have a history of doing so. Their voice service is worth 9/10.
Speed: Again, the technical aspects of their service see AT&T demonstrate a high level of quality and transfer their standard of excellence from the analog system to the digital age. While getting started with them may take longer than with other companies, this forced waiting is not something that holds true with the actual calling system. Connections are speedy, there is no disruption to the service and no delay on the line. Once you’re actually up and running on AT&T’s VoIP system, you will be pleased with how prompt the service is. And that is worth another 9/10.
Features: The deal with AT&T is something of a tale of two approaches. As experts in the communications market, you can take it as read that the quality and the efficiency of their phone system will be bang up to scratch, every time. However, the very reason that VoIP has got over with such a wide crowd is that it offers more than standard telephony, to the extent where it is a different ball game altogether. Part of this difference is in the features, which with other companies are given away as part of the service. AT&T expect customers to pay for things that other companies are bundling in their basic plans, and this is not going to appeal to people who do a lot of comparison shopping. Therefore, it is only right to mark them down here, and give them 6/10.
Overall: While undoubtedly a good service, the worry with AT&T’s VoIP system is that it seems to fit very much with the expected pros and cons of a copper-wire phone company going VoIP. They do all the traditional stuff exceptionally well. But if it is traditional stuff you want, you might just be better off sticking with your old copper-wire phone system. This is a company which must have a decent level of business sense at least, so they may iron out some of the issues listed above. Until they do, however, it is fair to say that people will look to a service which offers more up front, and an overall mark of 46/60 – good, but not great – reflects this.