Read these 11 AT&T Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Home Phone Service tips and hundreds of other topics.
AT&T, like many other phone carriers, offers a lot of choices for phone plans because not everyone needs the same features when it comes to residential phone service.
Some options to consider when comparing phone service include AT&T's "quad-play" package, which includes unlimited local and long distance residential phone services, satellite TV services, DSL Internet services, and wireless services. It costs roughly $133 per month and for $103 per month, you can get the same features, minus satellite TV.
The lowest cost residential local phone service is AT&T's CallVantage plan, which is offered at $19.99/month and includes voice mail and soft phone service. Long distance calls under this plan are charged at 4 cents/minute.
Another great deal for those who prefer the advantages of a land line phone over VoIP (911 service and phones will still work in the event of a power or Internet outage) is the AT&T All Distance Online Select. This plan features unlimited national long distance and local dialing for $39.94/month. Phone and wireline protection services can be added to this plan for a small additional amount.
AT&T long distance plans include specific plans for customers who call one specific international country more frequently. Some of the offerings include the AsiaSaver 60 Plus Plan that adds 60 minutes of free callng to Asia and the Phillipines for an additional $8.95/month, and the Unlimited Canada Calling Plus plan which provides unlimited calls to Canada for an additional $5.95/month with qualifying services.
Do you travel frequently? The AT&T Calling Card is perfect for making calls home that you don't want to show up on your hotel bill when turning in expense reports. You are guaranteed a low rate, and bypass expensive hotel service rates.
Do you have relatives that live out of state and use a measured rate service? With an AT&T Easy Reach 800 number, they can make unlimited free calls to you at no charge to them.
This is a great plan for families that have elderly out-of-state relatives and a great way for college students to stay in touch with parents.
The Easy Reach plan is offered at an additional monthly charge and calls are billed to you at a rate of 15 cents per minute.
This number is not published in any directory, so only the callers you want to use it have access.
Rates are much more competitive than collect calls and this number can be invaluable for emergencies.
Picture this scenario: you have just had a flat tire, your cell phone is dead and you have no change for a pay phone. When it seems that all is lost, you reach into your wallet and discover that you had the foresight to purchase an AT&T phone card. Now, you can call the office to tell them why you aren't in and call for help changing your tire.
AT&T phone cards come in handy for travelers, emergencies and also for making long distance calls if you don't want to pay a monthly rate to a service provider.
Cards can be purchased from your local Sam's Club or Wal-mart with the following features:
Pacific Bell, now AT&T, offers the widest support for the hearing impaired available. Several types of relay services are available, TTY relay, Internet relay and video relay.
TTY relay allows you to use a standard teletypewriter and type messages which are then read aloud by a live person to the hearing person on the other end. A communications assistant types the message as relayed by the hearing person on the other end, which is then received by a screen on the teletypewriter. This is the most common method used by the hearing impaired today.
Internet relay is a simpler form of text communication and allows the hearing impaired to simply type and receive text messages over a web portal.
Video relay is a new method of communication for the deaf, and works well for those who would rather sign than type. Video relay calls are free, and use a standard web cam connected to a PC. A video interpreter translates the speech received into sign language and is viewable on your PC screen.
Full instructions for all methods are available on the SBC/AT&T website.
Pacific Bell, now AT&T, has an online phone store with a wide variety of home phones and answering machines to choose from.
Cordless phones, the product of choice for modern families due to their portability and convenience, come in three main frequencies. 900Mhz is the oldest technology, but also the most prone to poor quality and range. These phones are rapidly growing obsolete and hard to find.
2.4 GHz came next, and is significantly better with respect to both range and call quality than the earlier models. Most phones in this category come with integrated speakerphones. The AT&T phone store offers several models in this range at competitive prices for their customers.
The best choice, and also the most expensive, is a 5.8GHz cordless phone. The 5.8Ghz frequency band is largely unused, and therefore is less cluttered than other frequencies. This gives you the best sound quality, enhanced range and better security. The phone store also offers several phones in this frequency range for customers who want the best possible voice quality.
The former Pacific Bell has seen a lot of recent name changes. To clarify the confusion, here is a bit of history on this well-known telephone company.
Before 1984, Pacific Bell was known as the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company and was 89.8 percent owned by AT&T. After the AT&T court ordered break-up, the company became independent and changed its name to Pacific Bell and was often referred to as Pac Bell.
In 1997, Pac Bell was acquired by SBC, but its name was kept until 2001 when it was rebranded as SBC Pacific Bell. In 2002, it was rebranded again as simply SBC.
On Nov. 18, 2005, SBC completed its acquisition of AT&T and chose to change its name once again to AT&T. The rationale behind this decision was that the AT&T brand was time-honored and respected.
Only time will tell whether or not this was the best decision. The important thing for Pac Bell customers to remember is that only the names have changed -- the people, equipment, and service have remained the same.
AT&T combines the benefits of low cost VoIP service with its legendary attention to detail to provide one of the clearest call quality VoIP services available today.
CallVantage requires a broadband connection and does not work over dial-up. It provides two options - one, simply plug in your existing telephone into the ATA (analog telephony adapter) provided as part of your sign up kit, and plug the other end of the ATA into your DSL modem or router. The second is great for customers who travel, and works as a softphone over your computer. All you need to use this form of the service is a good headset with a microphone.
Features provided with this low cost service include:
One of the "Baby Bells" that was created after the break-up of the old AT&T in 1982 was Southwestern Bell. It changed its name to SBC Communications in 1995 and is again calling itself AT&T after purchasing the parent company in 2005.
Although it is unusual for the acquiring company to take the name of the purchased entity, the management team at SBC felt that the AT&T name was a time-honored and trusted brand. The merger between SBC and AT&T closed in November 2005 and all former SBC customers are now receiving bills that say AT&T, although they can still type in sbc.com and view their phone bills. This merger provided former SBC phone customers with a wider variety of services and options than before.
Now that AT&T has merged with Cingular Wireless and BellSouth, a new incentive plan for customers to use AT&T for all communications has emerged. AT&T residential phone service customers who also become wireless service customers can call any AT&T phone number for free, with no minute usage. This is the first time the concept of in-network free calling has extended to wired phones. It is expected to reduce costs for many customers struggling under high cell phone bills.
This service starts at $59.95/month on the wireless side and has different terms based on where you are located geographically.
Because of the strength of the AT&T name throughout telecom history, AT&T has dramatically expanded to include the former BellSouth Telephone, SBC Telephone (Southwestern and Pacific Bell), and Cingular Wireless.
The end result for you, the customer, is that AT&T now offers the widest range of packages and options available from any one carrier. Your choices include VoIP (less expensive, lower call quality) or regular telephone service, wireless service, satellite TV (through a partnership with Dish Network), and DSL-based Internet service. You can also purchase a Phone Protect Plan which covers trouble with your handsets, or a WirePro plan which covers trouble with your existing home wiring.
Although it can be a bit confusing to sort through all the options and bundles offered by AT&T, there is less hassle than you might think. AT&T has an online member form where you can add or subtract features or change options.
Although existing BellSouth telephone customers are still using BellSouth DSL and getting bills marked BellSouth, a transition is underway to replace the name BellSouth entirely with the AT&T name.
According to AT&T spokesmen, the transition will give BellSouth customers more options and will enable a whole new future of entertainment and video products that are in development now. If you are an existing BellSouth customer, you don't have to do anything because the switch will be made for you. There are now many more services and products available to you than before.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|