Video services

AT&T U-verse Arrives in Cheese State

Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, are the first new markets to get AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s U-verse TV and data services in 2007, the carrier said Wednesday. (See U-verse Enters Wisconsin.)

The two new markets are the 12th and 13th AT&T has launched. The carrier said recently it planned to launch four new markets in early 2007. (See AT&T Set to Expand Its U-verse and Lightspeed Unauthorized.)

AT&T has taken a cautious approach when entering new markets, launching the service to a limited audience, and AT&T spokesman Wes Warnock says Milwaukee and Racine will be no exception.

As a result, AT&T hasn't racked up that many IPTV subscribers. The operator recently told Light Reading it had only about 3,000 U-verse video subscribers at the end of 2006. AT&T says it now has 7,000 U-verse customers, but doesn't specify how many of those are taking IPTV as part of their U-verse bundle. (See It's a Small U-Verse for AT&T.)

But AT&T clearly plans to make its service widely available in the Wisconsin markets, as it announced February 5 it will create up to 200 new jobs in downtown Milwaukee to help bring U-verse to the area.

AT&T's cable competition in Wisconsin comes from Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), whose cable TV packages (unbundled) range from $54 to $84 per month in Milwaukee and Racine. Time Warner's Roadrunner data service (at 5 Mbit/s downstream and 384 kbit/s upstream) sells for $45 per month, while digital voice (unbundled) is $50 per month. Voice, video, and data bundles range from $143 to $167 per month.

U-verse video and data bundles start at $65 per month and go up to $119 per month, according to the AT&T U-verse Website. Customers have a choice of four channel packages with up to 300 channels, including 25 high-definition channels. Internet access comes in speeds of 1.5, 3, or 6 Mbit/s downstream (upstream speed for each tier is 1 Mbit/s). (See AT&T Launches HD.)

The EchoStar Satellite LLC DISH Network and DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) satellite services are also available in both Milwaukee and Racine.

AT&T's Warnock says Wisconsin U-verse users will be supplied with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) HD-capable set-top boxes.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s Scientific Atlanta set-top boxes will also be given to U-verse subscribers as the service rolls out in new markets, AT&T tells Light Reading.

Warnock says the two new markets are just the beginning of a big year for U-verse. "Our network is going to pass 8 million households by the end of the year," he says. "Again you're going to see a pretty aggressive ramp."

The U-verse launch began last year in Texas (San Antonio and Houston), then spread to nine other markets in California (San Francisco/Oakland and San Jose/Santa Clara), Connecticut (Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford) and Indiana (Indianapolis, Muncie, Bloomington, and Anderson).

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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