AT&T announced that it will let AT&T wireless customers call AT&T landlines for free (without burning minutes). The plan is called “Unity” but apparently doesn’t extend to calls between AT&T landlines. Here’s the NY Times write up (reg req’d).
Wireless carriers have long used “free” calling to other subscribers as a “viral” strategy to gain and retain customers. But this is an interesting move and should prompt others (that can — i.e., Verizon, Sprint) to do something similar.
This is also another “bundling” proposition that will help reinforce the separate AT&T “triple play” — voice, mobile, Internet — or “quadruple play” (with TV) when it arrives. If there’s much more value added from there it starts to get very awkward linguistically: quintuple, sextuple, septuple, octuple . . .
No monopoly here, just a new walled garden. AT&T knows that there’s lots of consumer inertia around switching. Bundling and discounting helps create more of it.