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AT&T Ups U-verse Downloads

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is turning up the speed on its U-verse network. Sort of. The carrier is taking some of the bandwidth it had reserved for video delivery and is using it to raise the maximum downstream Internet speeds from 6 Mbit/s to 10 Mbit/s. The change is effective immediately and is available to all U-verse customers. (See AT&T Boosts U-verse Speeds.)

While AT&T is increasing downstream speeds, it is not increasing the overall bandwidth that it's delivering into customers' homes. Currently it delivers a minimum of 25 Mbit/s in overall bandwidth, depending on how far a customer's home is from AT&T's central office. Most of this bandwidth is allocated for video while the rest is for actual downstream and upstream Internet speeds.

AT&T now says, in light of its U-verse network performing better than expected, it is simply reallocating how the bandwidth is used to allow the extra 4 Mbit/s. Customers who were receiving 25 Mbit/s into their homes will continue to receive that.

The 10-Mbit/s package will cost $55 when bundled with U-verse TV. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), by comparison, offers its fastest downstream speeds of 8 Mbit/s for $53 but also can go up to 12 Mbit/s when downloading large files. With Docsis 3.0 hoping to be deployed this year, AT&T could find itself still lagging behind cable in some areas by year's end.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) currently offers upstream speeds twice as fast as the 10-Mbit/s downstream speeds AT&T is offering, and it sells downstream speeds up to 50 Mbit/s in select markets, with 100 Mbit/s also on the horizon. (See Verizon Seeing 20/20 and Verizon Spells Out 100 Mbit/s.)

AT&T won't say yet when it plans to offer a second stream of HD video to customers' homes or what kind of network upgrades such as pair bonding or compression tricks it will use to make that possible, if any at all.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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