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AT&T Bundles Up U-verse

Raymond McConville
News Analysis
Raymond McConville

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says it's looking for more ways to combine U-verse features into bundles and might even look into combining services -- including wireless services -- onto one bill.

"By the end of the year it will really be different," said AT&T senior vice president of consumer marketing Michael Antieri this morning at a Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. conference. "From all of our research, we've found consumers want seamlessness across all services; they don't want separate capabilities."

One example would be to take the mobile video share service that allows cell phone users to share video with each other in real time and add a video locker. That way, the content could be uploaded and viewed anywhere -- on a mobile phone, PC, or TV. (See AT&T's Wild About Wireless.)

Antieri also mentioned the idea of selling one voice plan to cover all devices, whether they be fixed or mobile. A similarly combined plan is being contemplated for fixed broadband and wireless broadband.

Separately, Antieri told analysts that U-verse TV has been coming in with a 90 percent broadband attachment rate, meaning 90 percent of all customers who sign up for U-verse TV also take a broadband service as well.

AT&T considers that encouraging, especially when combined with a previous announcement that 60 percent of its new video customers were former cable customers. (See AT&T Quickens U-verse Pace.)

Antieri even claimed U-verse's growth is starting to affect cable pricing. "When we launch in a market we see more competitive activity after we launch versus before we launch," he said.

On the flip side, traditional voice services are showing further signs of decay. Antieri noted that TDM voice is coming in with only a 40 percent broadband attachment rate.

AT&T expects to have more than 1 million U-verse TV subscribers by the end of the year (it currently has 231,000). — Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:45:52 PM
re: AT&T Bundles Up U-verse
For me, it's exactly the opposite. AT&T has been trying to sell U-verse for over a year now and I tell them I don't care about TV. If I did I would get DBS which provides better value.

What I want is better internet access speeds which haven't improved in 8 years, even with deregulation. I don't want to be forced into a bundle.

I'd be surprised if U-verse has a take rate of more than single digits in my area. Comcast has not reduced pricing one cent since U-verse has been introduced. Comcast hasn't increased local ad spends either. This suggests U-verse TV is no way impacting pricing.

On mobile, I couldn't care less about one bill. It's all about coverage. AT&T doesn't compete with VZ in my area so VZ gets the family's largest communication monthly bill (which is "free market" wireless. Isn't competition grand?)

So, I've ended up with VZ for mobile, T for DSL and POTS, and Comcast for TV. Oh, for $21/mo I get a virtual machine at a colo connected to the real internet.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:45:48 PM
re: AT&T Bundles Up U-verse
ATT has to bundle because competitive offerings in wireless and broadband are killing its voice business. So why not throw it in for free? Then analysts cannot so easily watch their core business erode.

As to new cable subs, CMCSK is losing basic analog subs to ATT since they are being given things like a year of free satellite TV. These folks churn away in a heartbeat.
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:45:46 PM
re: AT&T Bundles Up U-verse

Of course since they expend no capex to run voice.....being cheap has ALWAYS been an alternative for them. They can price below VoIP any day they choose.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:45:45 PM
re: AT&T Bundles Up U-verse
Of course since they expend no capex to run voice.....being cheap has ALWAYS been an alternative for them. They can price below VoIP any day they choose.

VoIP is a bit of a distraction. The incumbents used it to feign market competition, giving the federal regulators a reason for gutting the '96 telco act, allowing the ILECs to leverage their local loop natural monopolies to reconstitute nationwide monopoly. The netheads use it as religious dogma. The reality is that it's a red herring when it comes to voice pricing.

The voice transition is from fixed line to mobile. AT&T averages $127 per month for mobile voice per household. They want to push it up to $200. Price per bit is outrageous. But folks like Carlos Slim don't become the richest people on the planet by driving prices to marginal costs.
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