AT&T Connects SMBs with Wireless Loans

Small businesses short on cash but long on wireless aspirations may have caught a break this week when AT&T Capital Services, the financing arm of the telecom giant, announced a new loan package catering to SMBs looking to join the mobile masses.

The financing unit will offer loans for as little as $1,000 to SMBs interested in investing in new AT&T Wireless systems or that want to upgrade to new services and products, including its array of smartphone offerings.

Catherine Martine, AT&T’s executive vice president of small business solutions, made the announcement during her keynote address at the company’s annual Women Impacting Public Policy Conference in Washington.

“With more than 25 years experience in communications financing, we know the challenges that small businesses face and understand that today, perhaps more than ever before, access to capital is critical to sustaining their operations,” Martine said in her address.

“Our goal is to provide small businesses with access to new options for funding game-changing wireless solutions, to help them innovate and grow and, ultimately, to serve as a catalyst to jumpstart this critical engine for U.S. economic recovery,” she added.

Smartphone vendors, wireless service providers and mobile application stores and developers have been aggressively targeting small and midsized businesses in recent months to increase sales and generate buzz for their new products and services.

In February, Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIM) began offering free server software aimed at smaller businesses that want smartphone security without paying enterprise-level costs associated with mobile management software.

RIM’s free server software for syncing BlackBerrys with Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Windows Small Business server is also aimed at helping mobile IT staff meet the surging demand to support personal smartphones in the enterprise.

Meanwhile, Sweb Apps, a Texas-based mobile application provider, launched a service for the iPhone that lets small companies create applications for the popular mobile device without any programming expertise.

AT&T said thus far its financing unit has originated more than $6 billion in new product and service contracts for more than 5,000 commercial and government customers.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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