Wireline: Coming Up In The World?

Olga Kharif

Cingular Wireless, that familiar wireless brand, is about to go away. With the merger between AT&T and BellSouth approved, the combined company plans to change Cingular's name to AT&T. Why is AT&T rebranding its wireless service to be associated with the name of a stodgy telco that's been around for decades and is best known for its wireline service?

Because the pendilum is about to swing back. For several years now, analysts have talked about how wireless is going to kill off wireline. Well, that won't happen, says Andrew Cole, president of consultancy CSMG. This year, 2007, will be a year of convergence between wireline and wireless communications. And as services convergence happens, wireline's use and importance for carriers will start growing again.

AT&T is a prime example of what's to come: The company plans to offer a package of broadband and cellular service.

As these services are rolled out, I believe that wireless substitution will slow down. And we will yet think of wireline services -- rebranded and souped up -- as new and innovative.

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