AT&T is expanding the commercial availability of its U-verse services in its initial test bed of San Antonio. AT&T is also now transmitting U-Verse high-definition programming – 25 channels worth of it.
AT&T has also begun making several other new features available on U-Verse. One gives customers Web-remote access to their digital video recorders. Subscribers can schedule recordings using their AT&T Yahoo! Internet account. Subs can record up to four programs at once on their DVRs.
That will by necessity have to be a mix of standard definition video and HD (all SD is of course an option). AT&T told CED two weeks ago that U-Verse will definitely be able to transmit two simultaneous HD streams. Reportedly though, AT&T is for now limiting each house to a single HD stream at a time.
AT&T DVRs, by the way, have reportedly already been hacked, although that’s stretching the word “hacked” a bit. To enable multi-room DVR, AT&T was providing multiple DVRs. The first DVR was able to record, but additional units were not. Customers merely had to open the back panel and plug the hard drive back in.
For the service expansion, AT&T is also offering an expanded lineup of available programming with more than 300 channels, including digital music, premium movies and sports programming. The company earlier this week nailed down a distribution agreement with NBC Universal.
AT&T is also now distributing new set-top boxes from Motorola, all of which are HD-capable. They include universal remote controls that provide backlit buttons and one-touch access to VOD, DVR, and other services.
AT&T is running a promotion through March 31 that offers qualified new customers free TV service, including HBO and Cinemax, for the first two months when they choose the U-300 or U-400 programming package (the company said other monthly charges apply).
New HD customers can receive two months of free HD programming ($10 per month thereafter). Current AT&T U-verse video and data bundles start at $44 per month.
U-Verse data offerings include three tiers:
* 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; and
* Express: Downstream up to 1.5 Mbps, Upstream up to 1.0 Mbps.
AT&T is still sticking to its plan to make U-Verse available in at least six other markets before the end of the year.