AT&T: Bundling Is Lame... But You Have To Buy This Other Bundle To See Why

from the you-said-what-now? dept

It's been quite amusing recently to hear AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson's explanations for various AT&T policies lately. First there was that whole thing about how the company wasn't promoting its $10 DSL plan because "people didn't want it" and now we find out that the company that once claimed no one wanted naked DSL (perhaps because the company wouldn't offer it) is now admitting that actually people love naked DSL and hate bundles... except in order to get the "naked DSL" bundle they love so much, you have to bundle the service with a mobile phone. There's nothing wrong with offering bundles, certainly, but it seems reasonable to have a la carte offerings as well. In fact, Stephenson notes that forced bundling "is an old mind-set. We need to get over it." Yet, as Broadband Reports notes at the link above, it's a bit odd that he's saying forced bundling is an old mind-set, when he's promoting the similarly forced bundle -- where it's just mobile service rather than a landline phone service.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 9:41am

    People don't hate the right bundles.

    Bundles are what will put Vonage and other pure play companies out of business. Bundles are what is kicking AT&T & Verizons butt when offered by cable companies.

    Of course, you wouldn't be too proud of your bundle when you are limited to slow DSL.

    I would go with Cablevisions triple play, but I have to reset my modem about every day and even then, data goes down quite often. I won't trust them with my phone also. As soon as FiOS is available in my area I will sign up for voice/video/data. Of course, only if its still priced at under a hundred a month.

     

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  2.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    First, Vonage is sill in busness. The only thing that is thretening them is the Verison law suit. Speaking of witch, douse any one know how that's going?

    Second, Bundles are only good if you want everything in the bundle. If you want DSL and a cell phone then your set but if you have a cell phone already your stuck, or if you don't want one at all.

    Or it could be like Comcast up here where you have a coice between naked cable internet for $60 some odd a month or internet and basic cable for $49.95 (for the first 12 months).

     

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  3.  
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    adymax, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 10:21am

    I just switched from a $60/month Comcast broadband connection to ATT in hope that I get more out of my money and I went to a triple play or quadric with ATT. I don’t need home phone service but I had to get it to get DSL. They have a $40 unlimited package for landline + $20 for DSL + Dish Net +Wireless. I realize I don’t need home phone so I tried to get naked DSL with no success. This was 3 weeks ago. I had to pay like 12 for the line a pay a $8 fee because I don’t want long distance with them…How stupid is that!
    I didn’t receive the bill yet but I really curios to see much will be for DSL+Wireless Family Unity 1400 min(2 lines). I suspect: $13 for landline+$20 DSL+$90Wireless Family. You do the math.
    Before I was paying $60 plus 2 cell phone lines of 60 to 70 each / month. And a Vonage line of $17 for 500 min.
    I’ll advise to go with ATT but you have to have patience until you get the bill combine and everything up and running.

     

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  4.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 10:31am

    Vonage is still in business but have they ever made any money? If the Verizon suit doesn't kill them, their business model will.

     

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  5.  
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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 10:57am

    Re:

    I'd say you're spot on with your comment that "People don't hate the right bundles.". What people do hate, though, is forced bundles. If you can't have product/service A without having to simultaneously purchase/subscribe to product/service B - people aren't happy.

    I work for a small TV station in the midwest. We've always been the home for the college sports team games - until this year when the Big Ten Network purchased the almost exclusive rights to show all Big Ten games.

    So now I get daily phone calls from customers who ask if we'll still be showing their favorite college games and I get to to tell them that no, we won't, and in order to get them they'll have to a) subscribe to cable TV, b) upgrade to digital cable TV, c) pay extra for the 'digital sports package' that isn't included in basic *or* premium cable, and so if you were a typical over-the-air viewer and you still want your college games, you'll have to end up paying over $70 a month just to get the one channel you need to continue to watch games that were free up until this year.

    That of course assumes that the local cable company will get off their butt and actually start offering the channel. They're currently involved in a pissing contest with Big Ten because Big Ten *wants* to be part of basic cable, but the cable company insists that people don't want Big Ten as part of their basic cable, that people *want* to pay extra and make it a premium channel.

    This is exactly the sort of corporate thinking that leads to bundling that forces consumers to pay extra and purchase/subscribe to additional features they didn't want in the first place.

     

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  6.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 14th, 2007 @ 11:22am

    bundle math

    buying all of your services from one vendor may mean a 20% reduction in your bill for those services, but it also means a 200% reduction in choice.

    if you don't like the phone company's mobile service or TV service, are you going to break up the bundle and pay more for acceptable? no, you're going to be a good little consumer dog and pay good money for bad service.

     

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  7.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 12:03pm

    Chris, reduction in choice? I have Cablevision, it blows. Why would I not want to buy Verizon's FiOS offer of data/voice/video?

    Keep in mind that service for bundles typically are better, because providers don't want one offering to hurt the overall consumer view of their offering.

    I have yet to see any true quad play bundle yet, some joint ventures sort of offer it (although not really) and with AT&T its Direct TV and DSL (still weak).

    Verizon as far as I can tell has not linked in wireless to its FiOS offering.

     

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  8.  
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    Michael Whitetail, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Posts 3 & 6

    Having worked for AT&T Business services for 3 years, and taken residential, and DSL overflow calls, I would never, ever, under any circumstances get AT&T service.

    Not their ass-tastic resold POTS service with their 96 hr mean time to repair, or their semi owned circuit based services that still take 48 hrs to repair despite the service level agreements and price premium. Not their shitty DSL, or their customer 'could-care-less' wireless service.

    Bottom line, I much rather deal with the cable company that isnt locking me into any type of contract, provides all the services themselves instead of resells other companies products, and actually *owns* the network infrastructure they are broadcasting over.

    The choice is to use the less evil of the presented options until something more favorable comes along, and cable bundling without contracts and commitments fits that bill perfectly.

     

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  9.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 14th, 2007 @ 2:01pm

    Re:

    I have Cablevision, it blows. Why would I not want to buy Verizon's FiOS offer of data/voice/video?

    and if some aspect of FiOS blows worse are you going to break up that bundle and pay more for a service that blows less? are you go crawling back to cablevision? are you even permitted to do that in the service agreement?

    bundling is like putting all your eggs in one basket. in the TV and telecom markets, there is next to no choice as it is since there is almost no competition.

    reduction in choice means that once you choose a bundle of services from one vendor, you then have only one vendor that you get your services from.

    if you have three vendors for TV, phone, and internet service, dispute or dissatisfaction with one of those services doesn't have to interfere with your other services.

    also, forced bundles force limits in choice. if the only broadband vendors in your neighborhood are the cable and phone comapnies, and you don't want a landline phone then you have only one choice of broadband: cable. if you get mad at the cable company (see the big 10 channel fiasco), you either have to live with it, or pony up for a landline phone. that's not choice.

    plus, using scare tactics to get people to buy bundled services causes informed consumers to drop services they currently use but may not see much return from like when AT&T jacked up rates in northern california:

    http://www.toyz.org/mrblog/archives/00000261.html

    bundles aren't about saving the consumer money, they are about jacking up rates to coerce consumers into buying more services from one company, and the same or higher rates than they are currently paying.

     

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  10.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 2:12pm

    Chris, last time I checked contracts are not required with either cable or teleco offerings. Also, I have never seen a "forced bundle" so I don't know what that is. Also, the bundle I could get through Cablevision is less than I would pay for the same service to 3 different companies. Even using Vonage, my overall cost is lower, although one company does have a greater percentage of my overall spend. I don't get voice through Cablevision because they can't seem to keep my data connection solid, so why would I trust them with my phone? With FiOS, the connection would be better hopefully.

    That being said, you are either going to be paying your cable company or a teleco money, either directly or through a reseller. Even with total net neutrality you still have to rely on the pipe owner's infrastructure. What happens to Vonage service if your cable connection goes down? What happens to Skype service if your internet goes down?

     

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  11.  
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    Brock, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 4:25pm

    Verizon's FiOS

    Sure get Verizon's FiOS if you must. Just understand they physically remove the copper telephone cable going to your house, so you are locked into them forever. Talk about killing off the competition...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 7:49pm

    Re:

    Also, I have never seen a "forced bundle" so I don't know what that is.

    Really? When the telco forces you to get voice service to get DSL, that's a forced bundle. When the cable company forces you to get video service to get cable internet, that's a forced bundle.

    So now you know.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 7:53pm

    VoIP

    Even when you do get DSL from AT&T, they disallow VoIP on it. Now, why would they do that?

     

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  14.  
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    Doug, Sep 14th, 2007 @ 10:48pm

    Re: VoIP by Anonymous Coward

    I use AT&T Business Internet Services (ADSL) and works great with my AT&T CallVantage VOIP service which is not bundled. Never heard of AT&T disallowing VOIP services on their internet backbone before. I also know of people that use Skype and Vondage on their AT&T consumer or business class internet with no problems.

     

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  15.  
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    Danny, Sep 15th, 2007 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re:

    Exactly. Even beyond this discussion of internet, VOIP, cable, or whatever anytime any provider doesn't give the option of just the exact options you want that is a forced bundle.

    Call Gateway (or any pc retailer) and try to order a pc with absolutely no software (not even and OS). Having to buy a pc with an OS on it (especially since having no OS on it would mean a lower price) is a forced bundle.

    For a while Toys R Us would only sale a Nintendo Wii as part of a bundle in which you had to buy a Wii, an extra controller, and a game for a set price. At least in this example you could just go to another dealer that offered the Wii without the forced bundle.

     

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  16.  
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    Steve, Sep 16th, 2007 @ 3:10pm

    AT&T Does NOT disallow VoIP

    I've had a AT&T DSL line and Vonage for years.
    They both work great.

     

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  17.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 17th, 2007 @ 6:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    danny, that is exactly what i am talking about: uninformed consumers doing what corporations tell them to do because they can't be bothered to inform themselves.

     

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  18.  
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    Kenneth, Oct 11th, 2007 @ 8:29am

    ATT

    You would have thought that SOMEONE out there would have a company that offers "a la carte" services without having to buy other crap! Im sick and tired of having to pay two or three different services, JUST so I can have my pc connected!! WHY cant anyone JUST have a plain, simple, computer connection through the phone line or cable...without HAVING to buy cable tv or a land line phone service?????

    Just another way Corporate America is trying to "F" us all, for stuff we dont need. Just like the insurance companies.

    By the way...I thought corporate monopolies in this country were illegal!!!!

     

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  19.  
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    Noone...., Oct 29th, 2007 @ 10:25pm

    Well, just buy the extremely basic tv package...
    go buy a cable modem (lets say one at bestbuy or circuit city...) ranging between 200-300 for a decent one..
    buy a router
    buy ethernet cable and coaxal cable ...

    well after you do allll of that... your internet will be free... but of course they forget to mention that to you also dont they??

    They also forget to tell you that you can get more than one line without having to pay for it.. even tho they say in the service agreement that they rather have a service technician (150-200) come out and put it in.. then possibly charge you per connection on that...

     

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  20.  
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    Noone...., Oct 29th, 2007 @ 10:28pm

    Damn, i love having more than one line... let alone more than 9 lines in the house... how wonderful... even tho the tripple package with time warner cable is quite high... the figure of around 30 a line added to that would be disasterous...

    9 lines.. yeah that is right.. and over 900 feet of ethernet Cat6e cable..

     

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  21.  
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    earl duryea, Jul 10th, 2008 @ 5:14pm

    Bundle Electronic svces.

    I am just retiring in residential setting.
    I have dial up Dell/AOL...which I do not find offsetting.
    ATT phone bill
    MCI phone bill
    Time Warner Cable bill
    All of which I sense to be duplication and tax heavy.

    I think I want to upgrade to hi speed and get rid of one
    phone bill and fit in cable to package/not
    Can someone give me straight scoop please???

     

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  22.  
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    Ginny, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re: How?

    How is the internet free? Is it coming through the cale tv line?

     

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  23.  
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    Michelle, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Bundling

    Currently, I have Comcast for TV, ATT for landline and DSL and Verizon for Cell. Am thinking about bundling using ATT. Trying to save money. Will I save money? Or will I be locked into a contract? Also, can anyone speak on the pro and cons of bundling.

     

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