AT&T Wants Piece of VoIP Pie - TheStreet

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

became the latest old-line phone company to take a run at the voice-over-Internet-protocol market Thursday, saying it would have a major offering in place for businesses and consumers next year.

AT&T already serves a smattering of business with VoIP, in which phone calls are routed over the Web instead of dedicated lines, and claims to carry more IP traffic on its network than any U.S. company. Now it will expand its VoIP portfolio and market a full suite of services, rolling out a new consumer offering in major U.S. cities starting in the first quarter.

Several other telecom heavyweights are already offering or planning to offer the service, including

Qwest

(Q)

,

BellSouth

(BLS)

and

SBC

(SBC)

, and

TheStreet.com

reported this week that

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

is also mulling a package.

The phone companies' recent flurry of announcements follows a wave of VoIP rollouts by the major cable companies, including

Cox

(COX)

and

Cablevision

(CVC)

.

To go with the new initiative, AT&T named Cathy Martine to lead its IP network projects. She was previously a senior vice president in its consumer division and managed several VoIP trials for the company.