AT&T Launches Whole-Home DVR
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has become the latest telco to beat many cable operators to the punch with a whole-home digital video-recording platform -- a product it expects to offer in all U-verse markets by year's end. (See AT&T Bows 'Total Home DVR'.)
AT&T is debuting its Total Home DVR in the Bay Area, where the telco crosses swords with incumbent cable MSO Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK).
AT&T will offer the service on Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) set-top boxes, though it will also start to appear on Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) boxes as the telco expands Total Home DVR to other markets. The DVR system is based on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) software.
U-verse is available to 580,000 "living units," as AT&T puts it, in the Bay Area. U-verse passed more than 11 million living units total at the end of the second quarter, delivering video services to 549,000 customers. AT&T expects to have one million U-verse subscribers by the end of 2008.
Whole-home DVR will be a free add-on. "All existing customers will automatically get this upgrade. All [U-verse] markets will come in quick succession by the end of the year," says an AT&T spokeswoman.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has a multi-room DVR too, using Motorola boxes outfitted with high-speed Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) home networking technology. Verizon has said a faster version of MoCA will be required down the road. (See Verizon: MoCA Needs Some Speed.)
Today, Verizon offers HD streaming via its whole-home DVR service in four states (Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Virginia), and plans to offer that capability in all FiOS TV markets by mid-fall, a spokeswoman says.
AT&T differs from Verizon by using HomePNA 3.0-over-coax to send signals around the home. (See Why AT&T Likes HomePNA.) AT&T lets as many as seven additional receivers feed into the primary DVR, although simultaneous playback on the home network is limited to four recorded shows, and to three in hi-def. The system has capacity for the simultaneous viewing of up to five HD programs (two live and three recorded), according to AT&T.
The central hub of the Total Home DVR has enough space to hold about 37 hours of nifty hi-def content, and up to 133 hours of icky standard-def fare.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News