Light Reading
AT&T's Maria Dillard touts the popularity of the new wire-free boxes and outlines how interactive apps are giving U-verse a TV edge

U-Verse TV Marches Out 1M+ Wireless Receivers

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
10/25/2012
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LAS VEGAS -- Telco TV 2012 -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has deployed more than 1 million wireless receivers that let customers tap into the U-verse TV platform in rooms that don't have a traditional television outlet, Maria Dillard, VP of U-verse and video products, revealed during the last of TelcoTV's Thursday keynotes.

AT&T introduced the 802.11n-based product almost one year ago and recently began to crank up those efforts by offering free wireless receivers to customers who sign on for certain U-verse product bundles. AT&T, which ended the third quarter with 4.34 million U-verse TV subscribers, lets customers use up two wireless receivers. (See AT&T Pitches Free Wireless TV Receivers and AT&T Rearranges U-Verse With a Wireless Receiver.)



In addition to giving customers a wireless way to connect to U-verse, the product is helping AT&T cut down on the installation costs typically required to configure home wiring, Dillard said. AT&T also gives customers an option to self-install the wireless receivers.

The wireless receiver is just one way AT&T is trying to differentiate with U-verse and to keep customers engaged with the IPTV service. Dillard spent most of her time discussing the progress AT&T has made with its video applications platform. The number of apps available on U-verse at any given time fluctuates, but Diller says it's typically around 30.

And AT&T is giving lots of attention to TV apps that use or synch up with tablets and smartphones. Dillard said recent AT&T research shows that 65 percent to 70 percent of U-verse customers use companion devices several times a week while they watch TV.

Some sample apps for U-verse include a Facebook integration and personalized "Multiview" mosaics that show the feeds of several live TV feeds all at once. AT&T has also developed a version of Multiview for Chicago Cubs games that lets fans watch from multiple camera angles.

AT&T is also encouraging third-party development through an API program. Among the newer "U-verse-enabled" apps to emerge from that effort is TwonkyBeam, which lets users grab Web video from a tablet or smartphone and "beam" it wirelessly to the TV.

"Driving the customer enhancement is what this is all about," Dillard said of U-verse's video application initiatives. But flashy and fancy don't always win. To drive customer adoption, service providers need to keep those applications simple, she added.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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AESerm
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AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:18:37 PM
re: U-Verse TV Marches Out 1M+ Wireless Receivers


That would be a Cisco receiver w/integrated 'n', right? Interesting to see the IP systems providers adopting these radios (good ole RF technology). At CableTec in Orlando, the Calix systems architect delivered a Wi-Fi preso. Wouldn't say which chip vendors he was working with. But seemed to like 3x3 MIMO with dynamic beamforming @ 5GHz. Wonder how the HDMI connector cable guys are coping with this.

Jeff Baumgartner
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Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:18:37 PM
re: U-Verse TV Marches Out 1M+ Wireless Receivers


Yes, I've only seen Cisco versions with n on board..but suppose we'll see some 802.11ac versions coming when that's ready to go .  Although  ATT uses hpna for the wired component of the whole home stuff, it does make me wonder about MoCA a bit... will they remain complementary, or at some point will WiFi be so good that it will supplant? JB

AESerm
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AESerm,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:18:36 PM
re: U-Verse TV Marches Out 1M+ Wireless Receivers


At least one of the chip players has talked very bullish, as in conquering-the-home bullish. But I've also heard operators in Europe complaining about current Wi-Fi limitations. It's surely getting stronger. Cell data offload will be a big app, but possibly HDMI cable replacement, too (mentioned in the CableLabs preso at Expo) which makes me think the latest 802.11 iterations could cast a wide competitive threat. 

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