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For AT&T, U-Verse Is Picking Up Steam

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UBS’s John Hodulik, one of the best telecom analysts, has pegged AT&T as his top pick for this earnings seasons and is expecting some good tidings from Ma Bell. What caught my eye in his note this morning was the progress made by AT&T’s IPTV effort, U-Verse. Hodulik says AT&T has added about 135,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2008, up from 105,000 new subs in the fourth quarter of 2007. (It could have had one more subscriber in Stacey, who is waiting for U-Verse to show up in Austin.)

This means the company could add as many as 975,000 more U-Verse subscribers by the end of 2008. If that is the case, then U-Verse will have done much better than company expected for 2008. At present, U-Verse is available to about 5.5 million homes, but by end of 2008 that number will increase, helping U-Verse penetration.AT&T has forecasted 1 million new U-Verse subscribers for 2008. AT&T had 231,000 U-Verse subscribers at the end of 2007.

18 Responses to “For AT&T, U-Verse Is Picking Up Steam”

  1. Dan,

    FIOS and those very snappy Internet speeds sound great. Unfortunately Verizon has yet to bring their FIOS product and fiber to the home technology to Silicon Valley.

    So while we’d love to give it a try, that’s just not an option.

  2. U-Verse is a sad attempt by AT&T to make people believe that their product is “the future” when it is far from it. The AT&T U-Verse website doesn’t even list what speed Internet you get, up or down, when you buy the package. Al it says is “High Speed Internet Express” and you have to hunt around to find real details. From what I have tested myself and based on the average install, most users are getting between 3-6Mbps, and the service maxes out at 10Mbps. The highest upstream you can get with U-Verse is 1.5Mbps,

    By contrast, Verizon’s FiOS service, which I have had for 3 years, does 20Mbps on average and goes up to 50Mbps if you are willing to pay more. And it does 5Mbps for upstream. AT&T is not running fiber to the house for U-Verse, only to your block, which limits the quality. FiOS is run directly to you house so the signal is not being compressed at all. U-Verse is also limited on the number of HD channels it can support now and in the future since they are not bringing fiber directly to the home.

    I know Verizon’s FiOS service is not available everywhere, but it is available in a lot more places than U-Verse and has been around for a lot longer. The service continues to get stronger and faster each year.

  3. The important question to ask about AT&T is whether U-Verse is adding more subscribers than their bundled satellite offer (DirecTV and Echostar).

    During the 4th quarter, they added 235k satellite TV subscribers (for a total of 2.3M) compared to the 105k you mentioned for U-Verse…. they have a long way to go just to catch up to their own alternative service. They may get there this year (in terms of net adds), but even 135k for the 1st quarter isn’t close… and certainly not kicking anything.

  4. Users of Lyse Tele in Norway are regularly hammering their fibre connections with 80Mbit/s because their families are watching four HD streams at the same time. (not that they understand the concept of four HD streams, they just watch tv.) Try that AT en T

  5. Maybe they’ve fixed it in the past few months, but the 1 HD stream limitation is a non-starter for me and a lot of people I know. My unscientific observations are several neighbors (me included) who tried it out for a few months and dropped it once the limitations became clear.

    Logical Extremes above states that there’s a 2 channel simultaneous limit for the whole house — when I had it it was 1 (HD), and the last time the street on the feet sales force came to my door, they were still stuck at 1 HD stream.

    Even two channels simultaneously is pretty limiting — you can think of a lot of scenarios (HD in the living room, another in the bedroom PLUS something to DVR) where that just won’t cut it.

    Time Warner here in San Diego has been running some pretty effective ads showing a husband and wife scenario fighting over who gets the (sole) HD channel on their TV.

    Overall I was quite impressed by U-Verse right up until the first time my screen went black because a DVR recording was scheduled :)

  6. U-Verse is available in my area, but when I compared it to my present DirecTV offering, the price was the same, but the functionality was not as good. With satellite (as with cable), the broadband signal coming into the house can be sent to as many DVRs as I want, each capable of simultaneously viewing or recording two live channels. U-Verse is limited to two simultaneous channels for the whole house. Plus, given the frequency of dropped DSL connections I observe, I have less confidence in getting good video recordings than I do with satellite.