What do you get when you combine a company with 70 million long-distance customers, 1.1 million dial-up Internet access customers, and 4 million wireless customers with a company that has 10.5 million cable subscribers and a big stake in the @Home cable-based Internet access provider? A company that planned to interrupt your dinner with a telemarketing call to get you to change long-distance carriers, but was three hours late.
Just what we need--more telecom jokes. The real answer to this question is--nobody knows.
Speculation has been running rampant about the magic of "convergence"--the technology buzz word of the hour--and how the AT&T and TCI networks and customer bases can be combined and leveraged. But as we all know, there can be a huge gap between the bold pronouncements of the company chairmen at the press conference and the actual effects in the marketplace.
That's why I asked ten people to comment on this deal from their own perspective and from that of the employer with telecommuters or other mobile workers. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all ten responded; the good news is that you have ten very different perspectives, and the bad news (but not really bad) is that you have to read them all. Consider it a quick course in the economics and technical trends of the telecommunications industry....
MERGER A "WAKE-UP CALL" FOR REGIONAL BELL COMPANIES
The combined companies should accelerate the race to gain the home data customer, telecommuters being a large percentage of these. There could be a faster rollout of broadband cable and because TCI already passes 13 million homes, the combined organization will be able to focus on more rapid and more varied introduction of services, rather than spending energy and resources on gaining local access.
It could serve as a wakeup call to regional providers that the home market wants speed and reliability at a reasonable cost. The result should be faster deployment of ADSL, more rapid lowering of prices, and a more rational pricing structure for ADSL across the country. We will also see more bundling and packaging of services that reflect the needs and lifestyle of telecommuters.
We have already seen the beginning of explosion of demand for telecommuting based on the force of the public relations efforts of the carriers around ADSL. Awareness of telecommuting has soared. It is the center of attention in the media every day. Perceived as well as real barriers to telecommuting have melted away. A futurist who spoke to a telco large-customer group recently projected that the number of corporate telecommuters in the US would increase by 50% from mid-year 1998 to midyear 1999 as a result of improved connectivity. The combined AT&T-TCI could further enhance this activity.
David Mead President, Telecommuting Success, Inc. (303) 660-8135 email@example.com
"LET US COMPETE," SAYS RBOC …