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AT&T rolls out iPhone plans for business customers

post #1 of 13
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As rumored, AT&T on Monday quietly rolled out iPhone plans for business customers, marking the first time it has authorized use of the Apple handset with discounted corporate wireless accounts.

To use iPhone as a business customer, users will need to sign up for a 2-year service agreement or a renewed 2-year service agreement if they're an existing AT&T wireless customer, the carrier said.

New Corporate Responsibility Users and other corporate-liable users (CRUs) must then activate an eligible voice service plan for iPhone and an Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone.

Meanwhile, existing CRUs with iPhone-eligible voice service can keep their current corporately-discounted voice plan, but must tack on one of AT&T's Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone, which will replace any existing data plan.

Enterprise Data Plans are essentially offered at a $25 premium to those offered to residential customers, starting at $45 for unlimited data and 200 SMS messages, and scaling up to $65 for the plan that includes both unlimited data and SMS messages.

For a limited time, however, AT&T is offering a rolling $25 monthly discount for certain Qualified Corporate Responsibility Users and other corporate-liable customers, which brings the cost of the data plans back inline with the residential data plans.



Those who qualify for the offer must activate an Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone by March 31, 2008 in order to receive the service credit in the amount of $25 per month through December 31, 2008.



"To receive the recurring monthly credit, qualified users must maintain and be active on both an Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone and an eligible voice service plan at the time each such credit is applied or the credit will be forfeited," the carrier said. "It may take up to two billing cycles after activation for the first monthly credit to appear on qualified invoices. Offer not available to Individual Responsibility Users."

iPhone activation for business account holders appears to follow the same process as activation for residential users, requiring only a computer running iTunes with internet access.
post #2 of 13
Can someone explain why anyone would want to use the much more expensive business plan? Does it save money on shared phone minutes?
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post #3 of 13
Until the iPhone can sync with Exchange without the use of IMAP, this doens't really mean much for buisnesses.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Can someone explain why anyone would want to use the much more expensive business plan? Does it save money on shared phone minutes?

Maybe because it allows someone else (your employer) to pick up the tab?

And employers may indeed be willing to do this, because their own administrative costs are MUCH higher to reimburse individual employees for their phone service that the pro-rated per-user amount of the administrative costs if they (the company) can pay for the service for multiple users at a time (i.e., in bulk). In fact, many employers won't even allow individual's to expense their mobile phone service on a one-user-at-a-time basis, because the admin overhead is so high.

The remaining question, in my mind, is whether companies will now be able to apply any kind of corporate discount rate from AT&T to iPhone service for their employees.

Paul
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Dub View Post

Until the iPhone can sync with Exchange without the use of IMAP, this doens't really mean much for buisnesses.

Well, apart from those businesses whose employees are part of the 130 MILLION users of IBM's Domino/Notes services (for which IBM announced iPhone, iTouch, and Mac support in the past couple weeks). Or are a business whose IT staff can figure out that using secure IMAP is actually a very sensible option - even on Exchange. Or are a business that otherwise doesn't use Exchange. Or are a business that uses one of the (growing) number of service bureaus that provide relay services for iPhones to connect to Exchange. Or ... \

Paul
post #6 of 13
Will the business accounts actually get higher priority data access, like the Blackberry, or is it just an inflated price? The reduced cost of my service by dropping BES was what made the iPhone pay for itself... although I am disappointed with data speed and reliability compared to the Blackberry...
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by plus View Post

Well, apart from those businesses whose employees are part of the 130 MILLION users of IBM's Domino/Notes services (for which IBM announced iPhone, iTouch, and Mac support in the past couple weeks). Or are a business whose IT staff can figure out that using secure IMAP is actually a very sensible option - even on Exchange. Or are a business that otherwise doesn't use Exchange. Or are a business that uses one of the (growing) number of service bureaus that provide relay services for iPhones to connect to Exchange. Or ... \

Paul

With this and the Notes info coming out I wonder if Apple is letting a 3rd party develop an email client that has full access to Exchange. This would keep get Exchange support on the iPhone while keeping Apple from looking like it gave into MS' proprietary system or having to license it. Hell, maybe it'll be an Phone app by Microsoft.
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post #8 of 13
Just a thought...

Since this "special" expires on March 31st then perhaps the next day, April 1st, Apple will announce the release of and submit to the FCC the 3G iPhone for approval. Note that it would be both Apple's birthday and an Apple Tuesday.

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post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by plus View Post

Or are a business whose IT staff can figure out that using secure IMAP is actually a very sensible option - even on Exchange. Or are a business that otherwise doesn't use Exchange. Or are a business that uses one of the (growing) number of service bureaus that provide relay services for iPhones to connect to Exchange.

Aside from the IMAP issue, what about Exchange/Outlook calendar synchronizing? I think that is a huge feature that many corp users need. How easy is it to generate ics files from exchange? I use iCal so I have no experience with that feature on Exchange. Of course generating an ics file and generating a VALID ics file are often two different things, at least as far as implementations from some unnamed large organizations I've dealt with.

BTW: I don't think there is a way yet to directly import an ics file into an iPhone other than syncing with your computer.

m

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post #10 of 13
WOW - I think people are reading way more into this than is there.

Corporate discounts are given to large companies for PHONE minutes - and it makes it easier for the administrators to take care of that,.

People who work in that setting are used to their companies paying for their phones rather than themselves. Those of us who always pay for our own phone service really don't care about that -- but those who are used to having someone else pay sure is a big deal.

The premium is for the corporations -- not for the individual users -- and it will NOT give users any kind of premier access to the data, or any new e-mail features, nor any new exchange features (which currently don't work, but might with an SDK). Also they aren't developing any new e-mail features for the business division.

ALL this does is allow people with business discount plans to get the iPhone - something they haven't been able to do up to now. The premier data cost covers the discounted calling minute plans.

Frankly, ATT will probably pretty aggressively work toward eliminating all those business discount plans that Cingular unwisely put in place a few years ago...so this is a GREAT option for business users who want an iPhone -- but it will add zero new features to what is already there.

A March 31 deadline indicates NOTHING about future phones or phone announcements -- it;s more likely a cutoff date so that ATT doesn't have to keep offering business plan discounts more so than anything related to the iPHone....they might extend that date, they might not -- without a cutoff date, it is harder for ATT to do anything with those business plans if they choose to do so down the road.

For the record -- most businesses don't need 3G -- no blackberries currently run on 3G -- that is something more of the consumers want. Few business users report using web browsers for routine work activities on their phones. It's why even blackberry doesn't place an emphasis on entertainment nor web features. E-Mail is where it is at for those users.

This announcement just allows businesses to buy iPhones -- good move for ATT and Apple -- and meaningless as far as any features on the phones themselves.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonAnnArbor View Post

WOW - I think people are reading way more into this than is there.

... ALL this does is allow people with business discount plans to get the iPhone - something they haven't been able to do up to now. The premier data cost covers the discounted calling minute plans.

I think everyone understands that. It is simply a discussion of - Great, now businesses can buy an iPhone, but why would they be inclined to do so if it doesn't have the features they need.

m

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post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I think everyone understands that. It is simply a discussion of - Great, now businesses can buy an iPhone, but why would they be inclined to do so if it doesn't have the features they need.

m

Yes, I agree with that. If I was using an iPhone for business I would NOT be using an iPhone for business...

I was specifically commenting on the two posts that speculate that now that the iPhone is available for businesses that they will suddenly see new business features. They will not.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Dub View Post

Until the iPhone can sync with Exchange without the use of IMAP, this doens't really mean much for buisnesses.

So your company is screwed up/ IMAP is soo dangerous. . Mine permits IMAP.
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