After a five-hour installation job – apparently, many are longer – I am now among the first in San Diego County to have AT&T U-Verse, a new fiber-based service with a node down the street. They are definitely not calling it “IPTV.”
The service provides cable modem-like speeds for Internet, a wireless router and 400 channels of video, including 25 HD channels. A free Digital Video Recorder is also thrown in. After one day, I can report that the picture looks great on my new HDTV, and the Internet speeds are good, too.
For AT&T, U-Verse is considered critical to its future in media and communications. Accordingly, the company’s vision isn’t just confined to TV and Internet. This spring, for instance, AT&T showed off a TV version of Yellowpages.com (although it isn’t expected to be widely deployed for several years).
That’s basically it for the local connection – although home shopping efforts, launching down the road, are probably going to be tied in with the Yellow Pages service and might have some local capabilities. Three colorful buttons in the middle of the universal remote have been expressly reserved for shopping.
Beyond local, there will also be voice services. Today, I found out (by reading my instruction manual) that AT&T plans to introduce a full line of U-Verse voice services – just like Time Warner, which competes against it locally. (The current absence of a phone tie-in is actually kind of strange.) AT&T will also be introducing the ability to show your Yahoo! photos on TV.
My friendly pair of installers – AT&T employees, not freelancers – told me the company provided them with three weeks of classroom training but nothing in the field. So they were pretty much learning on the job. But they were good.
AT&T followed up on the installation with a college student, who came around to show my wife and me how to use the DVR features, etc. For instance, I learned that I can program the DVR directly from My Yahoo!. That is cool – especially when I am travelling. Their excellent care made me kind of melancholy, because I am not used to getting such good service from AT&T.
I’ve got the complete package for two months for just $74, and there is no contract. And I get $50 for every neighbor I refer. I think there will be several. Let’s see how Time Warner competes against it. This is one war that I am looking forward to.