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Video services

AT&T's Weber: Don't Overlook the Video Basics

NEW ORLEANS -- TelcoTV 2011 -- Despite all the excitement about TV Everywhere and fancy video applications, a service provider can't expect to do well in those areas unless they're built on a strong, core video service, Jeff Weber, the VP of U-verse and video strategy at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), told telco TV service providers here.

You can watch the whole keynote right here:

Multi-screen services are "sexy and important," but they are "not important unless there's a TV service to wrap [them] around," said Weber, Tuesday's opening keynoter. "It begins with the TV service."

But that doesn't mean AT&T doesn't lavish attention and resources on those sexier things. In fact, there's plenty of that going on at U-verse.

Weber pointed out examples such as U-verse's multi-view app that lets customers watch different camera angles of a Chicago Cubs game. He also talked up U-verse's mobile integration, which allows subs to stream and "sideload" content (on smartphones only) and control the DVR using a common user interface; and U-verse online, a TV Everywhere component that can stream out 180,000 TV shows, movies and clips. He also pointed to AT&T's link-up with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which brings the U-verse experience to the Xbox 360 console, and a new set of social networking apps that are fused with U-verse and aim to drive usage and customer engagement. (See U-verse Gets Appy, Goes Social and Xbox 360 Joins the U-verse Lineup .)

Weber also explained the drivers behind AT&T's new wireless receiver that uses Wi-Fi in lieu of a traditional coax connection. That product, available in all AT&T U-verse markets starting Oct. 31, can be drop-shipped, with the aim of driving down operating expenses such as truck rolls and reducing install times. "We'll never have to send a tech to the house," Weber said. (See AT&T U-Verse Boxes Go Wireless.)

Weber also confirmed that the wireless U-verse receiver won't be used to transcode video into formats that can be displayed on tablets, PCs and other IP devices that are hanging off a home's Wi-Fi network. But the idea of supporting such an app in the home is "in the forefront of our thinking. ... It's an architecture and efficiency discussion." (See Comcast AnyPlay to Stream Live TV to Tablets .)

AT&T is likewise interested in delivering U-verse to a new breed of connected TVs, with an important caveat. "It doesn't make sense in the U-verse footprint to deliver a partial service" to smart TVs, Weber said. (See CES 2011: Samsung Puts MSOs in the Picture.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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