Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Set the Mainsail.........Captain!

AT&T rolls out U-verse in Detroit

AT&T Inc. today announced that it is launching its U-verse combined TV, voice and data service in the Detroit area.

AT&T says it is the only national provider of a 100 percent Internet Protocol-based TV service.

It will be available in portions of more than 50 communities, reaching from Northville to the west to Rochester Hills to the south to Grosse Pointe to the east to Trenton in the south.

AT&T says it will continue to increase availability throughout the area on an ongoing basis.

AT&T U-verse offers customers a combination of next-generation digital television -- including access to more than 25 high definition channels, and high speed Internet access.

"It's an IP network for the home, and on that IP network wlll be a variety of applications, one of which is television," said Jennifer Jones, AT&T vice president and general manager for Michigan.

Included will be more than 300 TV channels, with improved picture clarity; video music channels in a variety of formats; high-speed Internet, featuring a wireless gateway for the home; and voice service that will soon be migrated to Voice Over Internet Protocol.

The service will be provided through regular copper phone wires, connected to VRADs -- those new, larger tan phone boxes that have been replacing the old pale green phone switching boxes around the Detroit area for months now. Massive fiber optic bandwidth is connected to those VRADs, which will be able to provide U-verse service to any home within about 2,000 feet of them.

Pricing of the U-verse service starts at $44 a month, and AT&T pledges plans will be competitive with Comcast Corp.'s "Triple Play" TV-data-voice service. The standard offer includes three Motorola-built set-top boxes to bring the high-tech IPTV to individual sets.

Importantly, it also includes a digital video recorder capable of holding 120 hours of video content.

And, AT&T said the service will also be available through the Web and AT&T cell phones, with users able to record TV, set or change parental controls and more from the computer or phone.

The interface features an extremely high-tech look and feel, which AT&T first showed at the January 2006 Consumer Electronics Show. Included are picture-in-picture and semi-transparent menus, searches by program name or actor's name, one-touch recording, and the ability to record up to four programs at a time -- while watching a fifth.

There are also hundreds of video-on-demand movies available at $2 to $4 a day, or $3 to $5 for a three-day rental.

Jones also assured GLITR that the service will provide local cable access channels to schools and communities -- although those schools and communities must take the initiative to send their content to AT&T for display on TV channels.

The system will carry no long-term contract, and will offer a 60-day money-back guarantee, Jones said. And it's available in Spanish.

AT&T also says it plans to add more channels and interactive applications in the future.

Now through June 30, qualified new customers can join AT&T U-verse and receive free TV service, including HBO and Cinemax, for the first two full months when they choose the U300 or U400 programming package. Thereafter, customers will continue to receive regular recurring monthly discounts on their U-verse package when they subscribe to a bundle of TV and Internet services. Also, customers who order U-verse TV and Internet by phone receive free professional installation.

Three packages of AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet U-verse Enabled will be made available to AT&T U-verse customers:

• Elite: Downstream up to 6.0 Mbps, upstream up to 1.0 Mbps.
• Pro: Downstream up to 3.0 Mbps, upstream up to 1.0 Mbps.
• Express: Downstream up to 1.5 Mbps, upstream up to 1.0 Mbps.

Subscribers also receive virtually unlimited e-mail storage and powerful anti-virus and anti-spam software.

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