WI: Reverse for AT$T's U-verse video?

Posted on January 25, 2008 - 5:11pm.

from: The Madison Times

Reverse for AT&T's U-verse video?

Jeff Richgels — 1/24/2008 3:45 pm

Could AT&T be out of the video business before it even brings its U-verse service to Madison?

That's possible, according to TVPredictions.com president Phillip "Swanni" Swann, who predicts AT&T will be out of the video business within 12 to 18 months, CedMagazine.com reported.

AT&T has declined to give a timeline for launching U-verse in Madison, although speculation is that it will be late this year or early 2009. U-verse is delivered to homes using Internet protocol over the company's fiber and copper network.

Swann, who made the prediction at a conference Wednesday, claims an 89 percent success rate with his prognostications.

Swann said AT&T has spent too much time and money for its 250,000 U-verse customers while Verizon has racked up one million subscribers for its FIOS service, which is delivered over a pure fiber network.

AT&T could buy more subscribers by attempting to acquire satellite providers DISH Network or DirecTV, Swann said. A DISH acquisition by AT&T has been the subject of numerous reports in recent months, and AT&T already bundles its services with DISH.

AT&T also has suffered a black eye and millions in expenses from battery fires in its U-verse equipment boxes, noted UW-Madison professor of telecommunications Barry Orton.

"The battery thing was big," Orton said. "It really has taken a lot of their credibility away on all this stuff. I think you can't discount the idea that they had to spend a few million dollars just on batteries."

Orton had never heard of Swann but added that "the guy is being listened to by some people."

Orton also noted that AT&T has twice previously abandoned video efforts: AT&T predecessor Ameritech was a cable overbuilder competing with incumbent cable companies before selling that unit, which now is known as WOW. And the company later bought cable company TCI, which it turned into AT&T Broadband before selling that to Comcast.

AT&T spokesman Chris Bauer scoffed at Swann's prediction, noting that the company is adding more than 10,000 U-verse customers per week and expects to be adding 40,000 per week and reach 1 million total by the end of this year.

"While others attempt to predict, we know exactly where we stand with our U-verse rollout," Bauer said in a statement. "We're investing in our network and building our workforce; we've signed hundreds of programming deals; we've rolled out more HD channels than cable; and we've introduced unmatched integrated services."

Jeff Richgels — 1/24/2008 3:45 pm

( categories: AT&T | State Franchises | WISCONSIN )