While giving customers more visibility into their services, the strategy will also give AT&T an increased opportunity to play a consulting role. The company plans to help enterprises integrate supply chain and procurement systems with CRM applications, with AT&T serving as an application manager, Dorman said. "The network ends up becoming the vital link to utility computing," he said. Wireless data will also get a boost under the new plan. By the end of the year, business customers will be able to extend their corporate intranets to Wi-Fi hot spots at airports and hotels nationwide, as AT&T continues to increase Wi-Fi access to its network.While holding out the prospect for fewer telecommunications headaches, the "revolutionized" networking environment may also mean a slowing of the price wars that have been a pleasant trait of the major interexchance carriers for users. In a cheerful projection for investors, Dorman said that non-price differentiation is becoming increasingly important.
"Were going to dramatically expand the use of Wi-Fi hotspots during 2003," Dorman said, adding that the company plans to have a Wi-Fi presence in the 50 largest metropolitan areas by 2005.