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Akimbo Catches Up to AT&T

Broadband video aggregator Akimbo Systems now says its service will make its (late) debut in the 13-state footprint of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) before Christmas.

In April, AT&T named San Mateo, Calif.-based Akimbo as part of its new Homezone service, which combines broadband Internet, satellite television, and phone service. Homezone became available in most of AT&T's territory Nov. 1, but without Akimbo. (See AT&T Adds Akimbo VOD and AT&T Expands Homezone.)

Akimbo's marketing VP Jim Funk says his company didn't make the launch because some "integration" works remained to be done. "It took some time integrating our programming information into their guide so that it looks like a single Homezone experience," Funk says.

Akimbo, with roughly 13,000 video titles, was selected to augment the satellite portion of Homezone, provided by the EchoStar Satellite LLC DISH Network. Akimbo specializes in off-prime-time content like older TV shows and movies, and niche programming like instructional videos and documentaries. The service provides viewers a program guide, video search, and video previews to help them find things to watch.

Akimbo has raised $27.5 million in three rounds of funding since 2004. AT&T is one of its major investors, along with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and top-shelf venture capital firms Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers . (See AT&T, Cisco Elbow Into Akimbo.)

Funk wouldn't say exactly (or even roughly) how much of Akimbo AT&T owns. But the fact that the carrier is a major investor conjures questions over whether Akimbo might have a role in the U-verse IPTV offering. (See AT&T Shines a Light on Lightspeed.)

"The two projects are separate within AT&T; they are two very different approaches to delivering video," Funk says. "Whether or not Akimbo is offered with U-verse remains to be seen, but what people really want is a large body of content." Funk declined to say whether Akimbo and AT&T have held discussions on the matter.

In Homezone, both the DISH Network and the Akimbo video are received by a 2Wire Inc. MediaPortal set-top box, which sports a 250-Gbyte hard disk drive for recording video.

The Homezone bundle includes wireless broadband and telephone services, and streaming music through Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) Launchcast. Customers can also access roughly 1,000 mainstream Hollywood movies from the Movielink broadband video-on-demand service. The whole package costs around $135 a month.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:34:45 AM
re: Akimbo Catches Up to AT&T Why would AT&T use Akimbo as part of its Homezone service, and not as part of its U-verse service?
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