The iPhone might become the AT&T Unity symbol

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Everyone knows it, Apple has entangled its iPhone to AT&T through its Cingular partnership. But what plans has Ma Bell with the bright and shiny Internet tablet than can do iPod? Glenn Fleischman, in a MacWorld’s column, hints about the newly launched “Unity” plans.

“What AT&T will likely adopt, perhaps with the iPhone being the first device to be part of the plan, is fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), which is the merger of calling systems that are fixed (through a landline or wired broadband service in the home) and mobile, as with cellular networks,” he wrote.

AT&T can do it via some UMA (unlicensed mobile access) connectivity, a technology already adopted by major cellphone makers like Nokia, Motorola and Samsung. “Any hardware engineering could already be built into the iPhone,” so any extra development will be needed.

In this scenario, convergence, roaming capability and audio quality would be at least as good as competitors’. “AT&T controls the termination of a DSL line that originates in the home, the company can split voice packets off before they hit the Internet.” It “also has thousands of hot spots in its AT&T FreedomLink network, giving them the same roaming advantage as T-Mobile.” Add to this, this big advantage: Users would have everything on one device.

So it’s great news? Yes but there’s a drawback: The price customers will have to pay. AT&T Unity requires some $50 per month, and the iPhone is about $400. Not everyone could afford it, but that’s the price to reach the Eldorado of the convergence.

Feb 3, 2007 | By Nuno

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