Good Timing

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2006-03-06 Print this article Print

?"> "I was surprised more by the timing of the deal than by the scope of it, based on all the work already being done by these companies to integrate their acquisitions," Redman said. "But, when you look at the whole thing it made sense to do it now in terms of reorganizing once, rather than multiple times down the road."
Redman said that business customers should expect to see Cingulars prices stabilize and perhaps even go up over the next several years, rather than drop based on competition as they have for the last few years.
But he indicated that the firms increased ability to integrate wireless services with its combined parents wireline operations should present enterprises with a range of benefits. Click here to read how the planned AT&T acquisition will affect smaller businesses. "Eventually we will see disappearance of the existing wall between the wireless and wireline businesses, and they will begin to be sold differently in the coming years," Redman said. "I think its fair to say that we may not see pricing based on per-minute usage, especially in light of [Internet Protocol] technologies; the big companies, like the merged AT&T-BellSouth, will be able to look at their profit margins and find new ways to be flexible about how they sell various services." Redman said that the combined company should also be able to put wireless technologies on more of a "fast track" in developing converged services plans. On a basic level, the analyst said that the merger should help boost Cingulars customer service operations, which he said have lagged somewhat notoriously in the past. Yet Redman said that any improvement will not be realized overnight, as there will likely be a drawn-out examination of the merger by regulators who could place restrictions on how the firms begin pulling their various operations together and bringing those combined assets to bear on Cingular. Another area where enterprise customers could stand to benefit from the tie-up is in the field of mobile business applications, according to Lisa Pierce, analyst with Forrester Research. Pierce said that AT&T has been working hard to refine its own wireless applications strategy, which she expects to filter down into Cingulars operations over time. "AT&T has been planning some pretty big things on the enterprise side, so, certainly the idea of becoming more integrated from the top down in terms of supporting wireless business services sounds beneficial, especially in terms of providing extensions for mobile ERP or CRM tools," said Pierce. "The combined companys ability to manage customers across a variety of delivery options, especially wireless, is very important; no one has a lock on that right now." Cingular speeds up data network. Click here to read more. The greatest benefit of the deal for enterprises will come from the firms ability to blend wireless and wireless services she said, as that is where customers are pushing the carriers hardest. Whereas Cingulars marketing story was less clear than its rivals in the past, the analyst said the company will now have a very strong message if the deal is approved. "Business customers love the idea of tighter synergy between fixed and mobile," Pierce said. "You have Sprint who has that down, and have Verizon that has struggled to integrate with wireless; now Cingular is no longer in the sort of weird place theyve been in for the last several years, and legacy AT&T customers will be exposed to greater wireless expertise." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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