AT&T to push BT's concert

AT&T yesterday said it will market the global communications services of British Telecom, its joint-venture partner.

AT&T will distribute BT's Concert suite of international voice, data and Internet protocol (IP) services in the US under the name AT&T Concert Services, said Bob Annunziata, president of AT&T Business Services.

BT bought MCI Communications' interest in Concert Communications Services in August, following the July announcement of a global BT/AT&T joint venture worth about $US10 billion.

AT&T plans to offer six Concert services, including the following, according to Annunziata:

-- Frame Relay service to 40 countries around the world, which is available to order now;-- ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) service, which will be taking orders early next year; -- InternetPlus, which will link AT&T's Internet access network in the US to Concert global InternetPlus network, giving customers multi-site Internet access;-- Remote access services, to integrate AT&T's Virtual Private Network Service to Concert's similar service and thereby let users securely dial into LANs from 40 countries;--Virtual Network Service, which will be available in 20 countries to carry voice and voice-band data;-- Inbound service, to streamline call centres across multiple countries through call routing and traffic-management options.

AT&T will be the single source of contact for pricing, ordering, maintenance and other customer-service needs, Annunziata said. In addition, customers will be eligible for volume discounts based on the overall AT&T services they use and will receive a single invoice for those services, he said.

The single invoice and the one-stop point of contact is likely to prove attractive to many customers, according to Neville O'Reilly, an analyst with TeleChoice. In fact, the new Concert services are likely to be more popular than AT&T's existing telecommunications offerings through its World Partners Program, since customers will not have to deal with AT&T's partner in a given country in order to get service, O'Reilly said.

"This is a better offer for the customer than AT&T's existing international offers," O'Reilly said. "Customers don't have to deal with multiple foreign partners of AT&T."

Customers will also benefit from the tight technological fit between AT&T and BT's networks, both of which use Cisco Systems' Stratacom equipment, O'Reilly said. AT&T has been working as a supplier to BT and they've learned how to interconnect their systems and networks in the past two to three months, he said.

"AT&T and BT will be able to do provisioning, network monitoring and network management as if they were the same network," O'Reilly said.

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