AT&T rethinks Unity, new plan forthcoming

After four months of attempting to sell its Unity subscription plan, AT&T says it's going back to the drawing board. Unity offered subscribers unlimited landline and wireless calls for a fixed monthly rate, starting at $100. However, AT&T's consumer business CMO Rick Welday said, "It proved to be too much too fast for wireless reps to get their heads around. It should be the default sale." Welday said that Unity's non-start is attributable to two factors: The plan required subscribers to purchase a long-distance plan and did not allow customers to roll over unused minutes to the next month.

As we wrote in January, AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel explained that "with AT&T Unity, you don't get Rollover, but given the size of the calling circle (100 million Cingular Wireless and AT&T wireline customers) you really don't need Rollover." Analysts at the time agreed. Technology Business Research's John Byrne: "I never thought that Rollover was that big of a deal for most people, since they usually end up with a bucket of minutes that they're not going to need." AT&T also hoped that the plans would appeal to SMBs. Apparently, AT&T and the industry miscalculated.

The wireless and wireline units at AT&T have about 60 days before they launch a reworked Unity offering. The service provider hopes to have the new offering launched when they release Apple's iPhone in June. Fun fact: The original Unity plan launched a mere three weeks after AT&T completed its acquisition of BellSouth, which in turn gave the service provider full control over Cingular Wireless.

For more on AT&T's Unity:
- see this article from The Chicago Tribune