AT&T Hits Homezone
The new service combines satellite TV programming from EchoStar Satellite LLC 's Dish Network; a dual-tuner DVR; Internet-based video from Movielink; specialized broadband content and services from AT&T’s Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) partnership; and a high-speed DSL line and landline phone service from AT&T.
This Homezone bundle won't have the speeds and feeds of the company's fiber-powered U-Verse service, which is part of Project Lightspeed. (See AT&T Waits on Lightspeed VOIP and Is Lightspeed Slowing?) But Homezone's debut shows that big carriers aren't shy about adding wireless home networking and Internet content to their normal menu of triple-play services.
As with Project Lightspeed, the Homezone bundle debuts without a high-definition TV receiver. That will come later, the carrier says. Dish Network customers can get an HDTV service through Dish Network, but those customers aren't eligible for the Homezone bundle.
Also missing is specialized Internet video content from Akimbo Systems , in which AT&T invested in May. (See AT&T, Cisco Elbow Into Akimbo and AT&T Adds Akimbo VOD.) AT&T says it also plans to add more Internet music content from its partner Yahoo in future Homezone versions.
AT&T plans to roll out Homezone in additional markets within its footprint in the coming months but isn’t saying exactly when or where.
The Homezone service launch marks the debut of 2Wire Inc. 's MediaPortal set-top box, which can feed content to two different TVs in the same home. The device also sports a 250-gigabyte hard drive for recording shows and for storing Internet video downloads and digital pictures.
The 2Wire set-top will connect wirelessly to the 2Wire home gateway, which AT&T is using to support the DSL connection to the home and to provide wireless home networking. That all-important link between the set-top and the Internet will allow consumers to move video content around the home with ease, and it will bring Internet video content and downloaded music into the living room. (See RBOCs Want Inside Your House.)
AT&T says Homezone users can communicate via broadband connection with their set-tops to schedule and manage DVR recordings while they are away from home. In the future, the carrier hopes to bring that capability to its Cingular Wireless subscribers.
AT&T says in a release that the Homezone service is available to AT&T customers "who either already have or plan to order AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet and the 2Wire home networking gateway.” The carrier says customers can select from several broadband speeds and satellite TV packages, then purchase Homezone service for an additional $9.99 a month.
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading