New in Small Biz: All Kinds of Comm and the Cost of Ink

Thursday May 24th 2007 by Lauren Simonds
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AT&T calls on small business while Kodak studies the printing behavior of workplace primates.

Even though summer's right around the corner, AT&T hopes you still want to bundle up — with the AT&T Complete Office Solution. The communications giant has announced this bundle of services designed for and aimed at (but never limited to) small startup companies.

The AT&T Complete Office Solution includes unlimited local and nationwide calling, wireless service, high speed Internet, AT&T Unified MessagingSM, and an AT&T Real Yellow Pages listing. Pricing starts at $181 per month, and you'll receive one consolidated bill. The company claims SMBs can save 15 percent over what it would cost them to buy the services individually.

Be advised, this offer comes with a couple of notable restrictions, mainly it's available for a limited time, and you must order it over the phone (no online orders accepted) from an AT&T representative. See the specific details here.

So what do you get for your money? The services and features breakdown like this:

DSL Broadband Service
AT&T Yahoo High Speed Internet Business Edition, download speeds up of to 1.5 Mbps, e-mail with security features to help protect against viruses, spam, spyware and pop-ups. Broadband services with higher download speeds (of up to 6.0 Mbps) are also available.

Wireline Phone Service
Two local business lines; unlimited local and nationwide long distance calling; toll-free service with no monthly recurring charge for three months (toll-free usage is extra). Additional business lines can be added as needed.

Wireless Phone Service
AT&T wireless (formerly, Cingular) GSM Nation 450 plan (450 minutes). Other AT&T wireless products and services, including Wi-Fi and special offers on the latest wireless data solutions, are also available.

AT&T Unified Messaging
Consolidates messages from your e-mail, fax, office phone and wireless phone into a single mailbox.

Directory Listing
Free listing in the AT&T Real Yellow Pages, AT&T Real White Pages and on Yellowpages.com.

The offer also includes the OnwardSmallBiz resource center, which, according to AT&T, delivers information small businesses need to improve visibility and cut costs.

Do You Think About Ink?
According to a nationwide study commissioned by Kodak, you do, and you're not happy with the high cost of printer ink. The study showed that 50 percent of people who own a printer would print more often if ink prices were lower.

The results revealed a good amount of what Kodak calls "sacrifice, compromise and even sneaking around." Respondents admitted to various ink-saving measures. Take a look at these numbers:

  • Printing in black and white to conserve color ink (59 percent)
  • Printing in “draft” or “economy” mode (33 percent)
  • Forgoing a hardcopy all together – choosing to view things on screen instead of printing (57 percent)
  • Avoiding photo printing (30 percent)
  • Printing at other locations, such as a friend’s house (25 percent)

What's more, the study showed that printing personal material at work to be a commonplace activity, to the tune of six out of every 10 people [Editor's note: Brad in sales – we're watching you]. Reasons for this behavior fall into three main camps: one third blamed it on printer speed, 28 percent print at work to avoid using home supplies and 24 percent say it's because printing at work is free.

What are the employees printing?

  • Personal office correspondence (42 percent)
  • Travel itineraries (42 percent)
  • Articles from online news sources (35 percent)
  • Photos (20 percent); Recipes (18 percent), Online-shopping receipts (17 percent)

And if you're worried about team building, you can stop – at least as far as printing goes. Although 56 percent of respondents said they've seen co-workers print personal stuff at work, only 4 percent have blown the whistle. Now if only you could get sales to talk to accounting.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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