Looking for a new way to get TV onto your PC? If you already subscribe to AT&T's next-generation U-verse service, you can also sign up for a free 14-day trial of OnTheGo. If you keep it, you'll pay an extra $10 month (over and above the usual U-verse cost) to access 30 channels from your PC. Mac users will not be pleased to hear that the service requires Windows XP, Internet Explorer, and the Windows Media Player. And the initial lineup may provoke further gripes: Fox News and Bloomberg but no CNN, Comedy Time but no Comedy Central. However, AT&T promises to add more channels as well as video on demand. OnTheGo is a joint venture with MobiTV, whose other activities include routing TV and XM channels to cell phones.
AT&T has snuck into the television-delivery market on silent cat feet. Without fanfare, the company formerly known as SBC has begun providing TV-over-IP service to a lucky handful in its hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Ironically, that's the same state where arch-rival Verizon has premiered its own television service. Unlike Verizon's capital-intensive all-fiber-optic approach, which extends fiber directly into the home, AT&T is building fiber only as far as "nodes" in the neighborhood, then compressing the signal into copper lines for the final leg of the journey. AT&T's initial offerings include 200 channels, including all the major networks, and some on-demand programming. This is a huge story and I'll get back to it as soon as I know more.
The bad news, at least for some, is that AT&T will begin sending warning notices to its internet service customers who engage in illegal file sharing. The good news is that this is the Recording Industry Association of America's new alternative to filing mass lawsuits.
AT&T is going into the a/v custom installation business. I am running for president of the United States on the Audiophile Party ticket. Only one of the two preceding statements is true, but which one? They're both equally outlandish.
Sign up with AT&T as your video provider and you'll get a year of free HDTV. The offer is available to new U-verse subscribers. If that next-generation hybrid fiber-copper IPTV service is not available in your area, the offer also applies to AT&T-branded DirecTV and Dish Network service.
If you live in Naperville, Illinois and want telco TV as an alternative to cable and satellite providers, you're out of luck. AT&T has dropped the Chicago suburb like a bag of dirt. Naperville was willing to sign a franchise agreement that would have brought AT&T's Project Lightspeed—a combination of television, broadband, and telephone service—as long as all residents were eligible to subscribe to the service. AT&T walked away, an executive pouting: "Nowhere in this country has AT&T agreed to a build-out requirement." Then again: "We have an economic incentive to make the service as widely available as possible." But: "What we're not willing to do is make a commitment in 'x' number of months." However, AT&T actually did sign an agreement with nearby North Chicago to provide video service within 18 months. Confused? Here's the catch: that agreement doesn't specify next-generation Internet-based video. The folks in Naperville charged AT&T with making a scene in an attempt to strong-arm Congress into passing pending legislation providing telcos with a national franchise agreement that would end-run municipal governments. A Naperville council member commented: "We have some intellectual dishonesty taking place." See coverage in ArsTechnica and the Chicago Tribune. More tomorrow.
AT&T is making U-verse subscribers an offer they may not want to refuse. A new U-verse Mobile App for iPhone and BlackBerry Torch can set up recordings for playback on home DVRs and, via cloud computing, on portable devices as well.