AT&T Cuts the Cord

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's a good place to spot new products that are getting set to hit the field. In fact, it's where the world got its first glimpse at the "Parker" box Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is testing in Augusta, Ga. (See Comcast's Internet + TV Set-Top Surfaces.)

This time around, a new Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) box for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse made its way through the hallowed halls of the Commission this week. It looks a lot like other Cisco-made IPTV U-verse boxes, but this puppy comes equipped with a 802.11n connection that would do well to shuttle video, perhaps even HD-quality video, around the house to iPads and other Wi-Fi-capable screens and serve as a wireless complement to AT&T's existing whole-home DVR system.

IMS Research noted that the device's 802.11n radio uses the Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) BRCM4717 chip, giving it a relatively inexpensive and less complicated design than AT&T's cable competitors will likely need to implement. [Ed. note: Is Ruckus Wireless Inc. still a factor at U-verse? (See AT&T's U-verse Gets Ready for Ruckus .)]

AT&T has yet to respond to questions, including when it plans to introduce the new box (called the ISB7005), but here's what it looks like:

In addition to 802.11n, the box also supports the usual stuff, such as ports for Ethernet, HDMI, S-Video and USB. Here's a copy of the user manual.

And consider this just the tip of the iceberg of what's to come as wireless becomes a more reliable way to send video around the house and work alongside Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA) , Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) and other wired home networking technologies.

Among recent examples, Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY)'s "Horizon" gateway will use a Celeno Communications Wi-Fi chipset, and the Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)-made gateway BendBroadband is set to launch this Spring also uses 802.11n. So consider this a new must-have, rather than a differentiating set-top feature from here on out. (See BendBroadband Rolls Arris's Video Gateway, Celeno Joins Liberty's Video Gateway Lineup and Arris IDs Its First Video Gateway Customer .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:11:07 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord

Perhaps they'll keep it around so the older boxes can do wireless video too... but, you're right, this Ruckus thing sorta faded into the background.

The IMS note on this played up U-verse's use of MPEG-4 as a bandwidth advantage over satellite and cable when it comes to HD. But that'll be short-lived since all new cable and satellite boxes can do MPEG-4. It's a matter of time before cable offers premium HD tiers that rely on MPEG-4 or get enough bandwidht in the bank to simulcast all their MPEG-2 HD in MPEG-4.



DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:11:07 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord

Come to think of it, I never saw a single home or heard from a single customer that used the Ruckus solution with a U-verse installation.

We know it tested well (pics):


But, our test was pretty limited (1 HD TV, 1 standard def w/ no Whole Home DVR).


fecklish 12/5/2012 | 5:11:02 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord

Truth be known, the Ruckus system has been installed in hundreds, if not thousands, of ATT subscriber homes.  ATT installers lead with wires.  Wireless is also looked at as a way to fix the exception (eg. i want a TV in my garage).  But ATT has also always been interested in the integration of Wi-Fi into the gateway and STB.  We've gone down this path and the performance of our prototypes decimated Cisco's box, but the economics for a company like us just doesn't add up.

But if you want to write about a dozen or more ATT users that have the Ruckus box with U-Verse....just let us know.

David Callisch, Ruckus Wireless

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:11:00 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord


Thanks for the comment. Interesting to note that when they have to pick between economics and performance, carriers will usually choose the former.

MMQoS 12/5/2012 | 5:10:52 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord

Jeff and Phil:

I would not have believed it but I now have the SpeedTest results to consider.  I live in Palo Alto and am connected to u-Verse VDSL2 for my internet service (no video).  The ATT VRAD is less than a 100 meters from my residential demark.  I have a renter on my property who subscribes to Comcast Xfinity premium and he is getting amazing internet speeds via SpeedTest: 62 Mbps down and 11.1 up! http://www.speedtest.net/resul...

This is really impressive and most likely will be the deathnel of ATT DSL no matter how they try to spin the "advantages"of their service.  BTW because I still use the ATT VDSL they classify me as a u-Verse customer for MRG even though I have turned off their IPTV service.

Now I'm curious about the Comcast ber at this speed.  Again we REALLY need FTTH here in the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Jeff I need a copy of your hat!


MMQoS 12/5/2012 | 5:10:52 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord


Your comment about economics is spot on, at least with ATT and u-Verse.  Way back SBC made a fatal decision to stay with copper instead of joining the tri-BOC consortium and therefore providing excellent HD video via FTTH as Verizon has provided.  A shall-go-nameless professor at my local Cardinal University convinced some SBC execs that UTP could provide 100Mbs at 3Kft. and so they opted for the twisted (read cheap) approach that the Comcast advertisements in my area now mock.

Even with the advantages of H.264 compression the u-Verse ATSC HD video quality is compromised.  Given that the HD video quality is already less than stellar coming into the STB via telephone grade copper with some unknown number of twists per foot, transmitting it to other clients in the home via IEEE802.11 with its indeterminent bit error rate (ber) seems consistent with the offering. 

Verizon, we need FiOS in No. Calif.




paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:10:51 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord


I guess my take has been is that AT&T is milking their wireline infrastructure.  They have concluded that residential wireline/cable/ftth is too expensive to bother with and are focussing on wireless + business services.  They are keeping whatever they can of the wireline business, but not investing to win.  They are investing to stretch and only investing in high density areas.  Their rural properties are very under-invested and are seeing even less money now than a few years ago.




DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:10:51 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord

It is amazing what AT&T has been able to accomplish with U-verse, but the cable companies have a clear advantage when it comes to just offering raw bandwidth. Especially faster upload speeds, something that will become critical as more of us are doing HD video conferences and sharing still photos that are really gigantic files.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:10:51 PM
re: AT&T Cuts the Cord

Picking a nit but which was it? Hundreds or thousands?

re: "... installed in hundreds, if not thousands"

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