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AT&T To Offer TV Over Phone Lines

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the next-up-is-radio-via-peanut-butter dept.

Television 303

ppadala writes "AT&T is upgrading their phone lines to offer video programmes over phone line. The service, called U-verse TV will be available in parts of Southern California communities initially. Channel lineups will be similar to traditional cable and dish offerings. AT&T is insisting that, 'This offering is on par with those of its cable rivals. But AT&T claims that it offers customers more for their money, including fast channel changing, video-on-demand, three set-top boxes, a digital video recorder, a picture-in-picture feature that allows viewers to surf channels without switching channels and an interactive program guide.'"

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a momentary blip of anticipation (5, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295755)

Wow, video (on demand and more) via the phone lines. I actually had a "moment" of anticipation, thinking I could maybe finally dump the miserable (Comcast) quality and service of our cable company. Then, the quote: "'This offering is on par with those of its cable rivals. "...

Sigh.

Re:a momentary blip of anticipation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296009)

Oh boy, you haven't dealt with the NEW AT&T yet?

I hope you enjoy getting screwed (in a bad way).

Re:a momentary blip of anticipation (3, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296107)

Wow, video (on demand and more) via the phone lines.

Yeah, I think I saw something like that at their exhibit at the Worlds Fair...in 1963!
I guess they still haven't quite got all the bugs worked out.

"The future is fun!
The future is fair!
You may already have won!
You may already be there!
Welcome to the future!"

Re:a momentary blip of anticipation (4, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296449)

That's why I went with satellite. Contrary to what Comcast says, the service has been significantly better and contrary to popular belief it takes far more than the torrential rain we have been getting here in Seattle to make it go out. The fact that even with a few perks it is still cheaper than cable makes it pretty much a done deal that I won't be going back.

I personally hated that I was only getting 70 or so channels with 4 or so ones worth watching and several channels that we were supposed to get were unviewable. The worst part was that one of the local channels comes in better without an antenna in the basement than it did through the cable. Pretty much the contempt that they showed me for complaining when I had a cable modem about it being advertised as always on and having it be out for three or four hours a day for several weeks in a row was enough to switch to DSL even if it is on paper a bit more sluggish.

So in general Comcast sucks and doesn't actually care about providing the service they promise. I had no problem with Earthlink and non yet with qwest.

So the service wouldn't have to be that great to beat the low quality cable service around here. It would be really cool, that way they could probably provide a way of just watching it on a computer at home, in addition to a set top box.

Poll Troll Toll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295757)

What's better...

Cable [impoll.net]
Satellite [impoll.net]
DSL [impoll.net]
Phone [impoll.net]
Phone sex with a mare [impoll.net]

Missing option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295799)

How about phone sex with a phone ?

Re:Poll Troll Toll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295805)

Yes, no one cares about you trying to make money by directing traffic to your web site with lots of banner ads.

Please, move along everyone. Nothing to see here.

Re:Poll Troll Toll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295893)

I care.

I enjoy a good troll. And I really don't think that he's trying to get money with those banner ads. If that were the case he would try to get modded UP instead of down. Some of those imPolls get up to 2000 votes sometimes, but they are never the Poll Troll ones.

His purpose is to troll, and to entertain.

New Poll Troll Toll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296447)

Which is a better way to for fucktards like you to commit suicide

Finding a cliff or a bridge somewhere and jumping off
Slitting your fucking wrists
Hold a sawed-off shotgun in your mouth and shooting

Catching up with the rest of the world (5, Funny)

KalElOfJorEl (998741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295769)

Gee, that sounds like what Europe and Japan seem to offer people at a fraction of the cost, except crappier and more expensive. Way to go AT&T! I love when telecoms are looking out for the consumer's best interest.
 
/sarcasm off

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (3, Insightful)

McFadden (809368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295835)

Helloooooo America! Welcome to 2004.

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295985)

America, Fuck Yeah!
Coming again, to save the mother fucking day yeah,
America, Fuck Yeah!

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295885)

Way to go AT&T! I love when telecoms are looking out for the consumer's best interest.

Indeed, it is a common misconception that companies want or care if you have something: e.g. Wal Mart "wants" to give you low prices or AT & T "wants" you to have high speed internet.

Of course, the thing -- and the only thing -- that these companies want is to make money.

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (2, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296431)

Of course, the thing -- and the only thing -- that these companies want is to make money.

Well, it turns out that's the way we have to play it. So if their only interest is to make money, then it is up to us, either through market forces or force of law to insure that a company will make more money when it looks out for the consumer's best interests, and that they will lose money if they don't.

To paraphrase one of the best quotes I've heard in quite a while: Don't try to appeal to their "better half". They might not have one. Always try to appeal to their self interest. -- spun

Or to put it a bit more crudely, ...assure them that either their signature or their brains will be on the contract. -- Michael Corleone

Catching up to Joost (0)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296471)

I think this announcement is motivated by Joost unveiling their service.
I think they're just trying to catch upto Joost.

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (2, Informative)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296057)

yeah, i was suprised this was deemed newsworthy. we have had that in France for years. I have 20Mbit+ a shitload of TV channels + unlimited free phone communications, in France and to dozens of other countries+extras... all for 30/month.

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296071)

Gee, that sounds like what Europe and Japan seem to offer people at a fraction of the cost, except crappier and more expensive. Way to go AT&T! I love when telecoms are looking out for the consumer's best interest.

/sarcasm off

Gee, that sounds like what the US, Europe and Japan seem to offer people at a fraction of the cost, except with crappier reception and more expensive. Way to go Virgin Mobile, guh, I mean Bell-- whoops, TJX. You have to love it when your cell phone company is marketing the happiest customers and hiking your rates at the same time. Stupid Canadian cell phone companies, mine won't even offer unlimited text messages!

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296323)

Gee, that sounds like what Europe and Japan seem to offer people at a fraction of the cost, except crappier and more expensive. Way to go AT&T! I love when telecoms are looking out for the consumer's best interest.

*Insert libertarian comment about how the "free market" is offering what the consumer wants and how "market forces" give it to the consumer at the lowest feasible cost*

Re:Catching up with the rest of the world (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296387)

Well, in turn, I (European) get to pay 50 bucks for a 1024/256 kbit internet connection, with a max transfer limit of 10GB/Month.

Wanna trade?

What an Innovation! (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295787)

ADSL modem + private network + set-top box.

Must have taken them months to independantly discover this combination.

And note the "location" issues (3, Informative)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295825)

The service, called U-verse TV will be available in parts of Southern California communities initially.

You bet. Qwest has had "Qwest Choice TV," for all appearances the same thing, available in "parts of Phoenix, Arizona communities initially" for several years now. Why only parts? Well, probably because they had to lay fiber to make it happen. In my parents' neighborhood in north Phoenix, they lay fiber to the neighborhood box and then copper takes things the rest of the way. Everywhere else Qwest partners with DirecTV or some such.

Of course it will only be select communities, i.e. those where any lesser offering would be laughed at. And you can bet that, like Qwest, AT&T will not let you take advantage of the full bandwidth of your connection for anything other than TV purposes. The Qwest connection is 11 MBits, but the most they would let us use for internet was 1.5/768 (so as not to make their regular DSL customers pissed, I'd bet). I think they've raised those caps but I don't know, I now live in a rural Utah community where the Qwest Choice TV/internet is not available.

This isn't news. This is AT&T trying to make a big deal about actually using some of the technology they've had for years. Only now are they being forced by the competition to implement some of that technology. Remember, kids, when corporations say they want a deregulated "free market" they really mean "free from competitors."

Re:And note the "location" issues (1)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296377)

Why only parts? Well, probably because they had to lay fiber to make it happen
Known as "Fibre to the Node", or FTTN [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What an Innovation! (2, Insightful)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296351)

ADSL modem + private network + set-top box. Must have taken them months to independantly discover this combination.

And coming soon to a patent office near you.

Re:What an Innovation! (3, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296367)

ADSL modem + private network + set-top box.
Must have taken them months to independantly discover this combination.


No, they discovered this back in 95, [findarticles.com] but instead of moving forward with it, they killed it after the trial run. I was part of that trial run and I have to say, it was pretty nice.

Nothing New Here (3, Insightful)

Pakup (624459) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295793)

At least not in Hong Kong, where the local phone company has been offering this service for years:

http://www.nowbroadbandtv.com/eng/ [nowbroadbandtv.com]

This is news? (4, Informative)

ardiesr (861538) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295795)

This definitely isn't the first ILEC to offer TV over IP: I know Telus up in Canada is offering it already.

Having used it quite a bit myself, it's very similar to digital cable (isn't that what it is?). There's also the added bonus of choosing very customizable channel packages and individual channels to subscribe to, which I think is a good change from the limited Tiers from cable companies.

Re:This is news? (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296079)

Yes, the only new TV service of any type which will be at all interesting is the one which allows you to buy channels a-la carte. Until then, they are ALL rubbish. As other posters have pointed out, there are NO new features in this package that don't already exist virtually everywhere else. Wake me when something interesting actually happens.

an upgrade? (3, Funny)

hey (83763) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295797)

How is TV an upgrade over anything?
American Icon, Survivor, etc!

Re:an upgrade? (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296371)

Come on give them some credit. They're bringing back the Bionic Woman.....on second thought it couldn't get any worse.

Re:an upgrade? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296405)

But with Video-on-demand, you can decide for yourself when you don't want to watch it!

Three set-top boxes... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295803)

God, why would 3 set-top boxes be an improvement? By that reasoning it would be even better if each box had its own separate wall wart and remote control too - hmm, I guess they do...

Re:Three set-top boxes... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295995)

You're so right.. you don't need 3 set-top boxes in your studio apartment.

Re:Three set-top boxes... (2, Insightful)

thebear05 (916315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296153)

you might not, depends on how much content you want your myth tv setup to record

Re:Three set-top boxes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296437)

I find it funny how the very same people that complain about artifacts caused by transcoding an AAC or mp3 file to ogg have zero problem with decoding digital video, outputting that over an analog connection, and then re-encoding that via their beloved MythTV box. Seems like it's totally acceptable so long as it fits in with their OSS-only mindset.

Interesting (4, Interesting)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295809)

The ATT site is somewhat short on details, but it does mention that it delivers TV programming "using Internet Protocol via a broadband connection".

This raises some questions:

1) Is the bandwidth dedicated to television progamming separate from your other broadband use? Or does watching TV take up most of your bandwidth? Given that they offer a DVR, which means that TV programming will be continuously streamed to the device (think 1/2 hour buffers or whatever), I would expect the only reasonable way for this to work is for AT&T to dedicate bandwidth above and beyond your normal broadband connection to TV programming. But that's just a guess ...

2) Is the 4 "tuner" DVR capable of recording 4 programs at once *in real time* over a single "U-verse" connection? Or does each show stream in at 1/4 real time and you just have to wait 4x longer for all shows to complete?

3) Are they using multicast IP or peer-to-peer streaming? I would expect the latter since multicasting 190+ channels would seem infeasable.

4) Given that it's likely peer-to-peer, does AT&T really think they have the server capacity to support tens of thousands of customers all streaming different programming at different times?

5) Are there QOS guarantees in place that would prevent my TV programming from ever "hiccuping" due to traffic congestion?

It looks like a very interesting offering *if* the aspects of the service that AT&T "conveniently" left out in their documentation live up to the hype - i.e., if you really can record 4 channels (or even 2) at once in real time without disturbing your other broadband use.

Re:Interesting (1)

ardiesr (861538) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295863)

Going by available offerings in Canada: 1) As far as i know it is seperate from the data used with your DSL connection. From what I've see your line must have the capability for at least 6Mb downstream, and only 3Mb will be used for DDSL, the rest for TV. 2) They'd need a good network to allow four streams at once, the offerings here are two tuners at the moment. 3) I believe the full channel lineup are streamed to the central office of the subscriber (or more likely the closest adsl equipment) at which point each subscriber streams whichever channel(s) they are currently watching. 4) Going by above, the backbone to the central offices should be fully capable of streaming the channel lineup.

Re:Interesting (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295865)

3) Are they using multicast IP or peer-to-peer streaming? I would expect the latter since multicasting 190+ channels would seem infeasable.

4) Given that it's likely peer-to-peer, does AT&T really think they have the server capacity to support tens of thousands of customers all streaming different programming at different times?

It's probably multicast. Why do you think that's infeasible?

Re:Interesting (1)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295953)

Probably because I don't understand multicast well enough. In fact, I don't really understand it at all - I thought it was kind of like broadcast packets which can cross gateways. I should go read up on it ...

My assumption was that this means that everybody's broadband connection would be receiving multicast packets for every channel all the time. With 190+ channels this would be what, 190 Mbits? So if it is possible for it to be multicast as you suggest, then I must not be understanding the concept ...

Re:Interesting (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295997)

AT&T probably has a switch that will only send you multicast packets of which you are in the multicast group. So in their internal network, 190Mbits is being dedicated to it, but over your line, just however much is needed for your particular channel is sent.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296231)

That's a good layman's explanation of it, except their internal network doesn't necessarly have to be 190Mbits.

Re:Interesting (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295923)

I happen to work on the IPTV project at Microsoft, which provides the software for AT&T u-verse

1) The TV shares the VDSL bandwidth. This can potentially cause an impact on browsing speeds if you're streaming all 4 channels at once. I don't have the numbers with me currently, but SD channels stream at approx 1Mbit, while HD stream at around 5Mbit. VDSL connection is anywhere up to 24Mbit, although as this is based on line length, most customers could only expect 15 or so.

2)Yes, real time for all 4 channels.

3) Multicast for all live TV streams. Unicast for video on demand. Essentially the same way cable does distribution, except over IP. This is exactly the kind of thing that multicast was designed for. The actual number of multicast streams AT&T are streaming now is over 600 (each channel is actually 2 streams - 1 for the content, and 1 for the little picture-in-picture stream for the channel guide).

4) As live TV is multicast, this question is redundant. However, for video on demand, the content will come from servers physically close to the customer's location. Multicast sources are mostly centralized.

5) Yes.

multicast silly ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296077)

3) Are they using multicast IP or peer-to-peer streaming? I would expect the latter since multicasting 190+ channels would seem infeasable.

This is a silly question. This will use multicast of course. And there is no real limit on the number of channels in total -- which has nothing to do with the bandwidth needs to the house of course. Look up how multiast works. The limit to the house will be on the order of 1 to x (say 5) channels at the same time depending on price/package, which of course determins bandwidth.

There are lots of interesting issues with how the TV bandwidth to the home works and where it has troubles, how to deal with home DSL use, etc. It's all about managing the QoS for both internet use and TV use. There are emerging standards for this all. See ATIS for telco directed standards and see MHP (and esp. GEM-IPTV) for IPTV standards used (and in many conutries, required by law).

As other posters have said, this is old news in the rest of the world. Bandwidth is a big issue for this since for a nice handful of channels (esp. HD) you want 10 to 50 Mbps, which is why the US telco's are still behind.

The interesting question though is will it be too late by the time telcos get into the TV game because it seems like the traditional spoon fed TV approach might be coming to an end anyway since VOD, iTunes, direct from broadcasters, etc., etc. may change everything.

Will be fun to watch. So to speak.

Re:Interesting (4, Informative)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296089)

(I have this service)

1) TV uses up part of your total bandwidth. We have a 6Mb connection, and an HD stream probably uses about half of it. SD probably uses a quarter of that (or @ 1/6 the original).

2) The DVR records 4 shows in real time. Everything has a sense of real time, but the box constantly buffers up 90 minutes or so of whatever channel you're on. You can only record one HD stream at a time, although you can watch another.

3) If multicast means the data for all the channels is transmit at once, this is clearly impossible. We've got about 25 HD channels, and 300+ other channels. I'm assuming there's some packet sharing peer-to-peer scheme for distributing content, but I'm not sure how it would work without losing the concept of scheduling.

4) They're laying fiber for the bandwidth. Does that help? I mean, I don't know. If they alot a certain amount of bandwidth per customer, it seems feasable.

5) Nope. First, the question itself is silly to begin with, given the nature of networking (since its a consumer product). HD definitely has a frame drop every now and then, but its generally very good. HDFoodTV seems to be worse about it. What's much more noticeable is the compression during fast action sequences, if you're familiar with HD and H.264. SD is really good, much better than actual NTSC SD.

Re:Interesting (1)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296123)

I stand corrected on that multicast question. That's interesting to know. I suppose the simplest answer is the best.

Re:Interesting (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296415)

I bet each CO will have multiple servers all direct streaming to customers. The servers will split the amount of needed bandwidth between the entire CO service area making it much more feasible.

Okay, but... (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295815)

...I recall when DSL had been out for a few years, and I had inquired about getting a hookup to it. I remember being told by Qwest (after a LOT of pressing for details) that while I was close enough to a CO, the neighborhood trunk operated on what was called "integrated pair gain", which they (at the time) did not have the ability to do DSL over. I asked them for some sort of ETA on upgrading it, but was told that it wasn't profitable enough, and that "maybe in a few years...". I eventually went with Sprint Broadband Wireless, which was available (it required an antenna). After three months and roughly half the neighborhood doing the same (cable Internet wasn't available back then in that area either), Qwest suddenly announced that "hey! we can give you 128k DSL now!" - to which most of the neighborhood went "pfffth!" because we were all enjoying an average of 1.5Mb/sec up and down (with a bit of lag, but for most no big deal). It's interesting to note that most other areas in that part of Utah enjoyed 7Mb/sec or so d/l speeds.

So... question is, is this just some stopgap crapola that they can announce, but in reality will only be available to a few selected areas and that's it?

/P

I have this already (3, Informative)

Swervin (836962) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295853)

The phone company where I work is a small outfit that only has about 6-8k customers, but we've had this for the last few years, to answer a few questions that have come up, 1.The tv bandwidth is seperate from the internet. 2.It's done through peer to peer streaming, I can run 3 tvs simultaneously over one phone line, but that's it unless you have a second line. 3. The quality of service is amazing, it never hiccups and they're going to start offering HD signal soon.

Channel flipper (1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296011)

Excuse me for asking a weird question, but how long does it take to change channels? Digital cable for me takes around 1.5 seconds - it's long enough to be noticeable and annoying.

Re:Channel flipper (1)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296113)

It's faster than digital TV. maybe 1/3 to 1/2 a second.

Let's break this down... (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295857)

fast channel changing - What's slow about pushing the button and the next channel is there? I can't even blink that fast.
video-on-demand - Cable's got it and charges out the ass. Unless it's free and actually has content (the free stuff on cable is crap), no thanks.
three set-top boxes - Right, cuz 1 just wasn't enough.
a digital video recorder - Is that ANOTHER box? Anyhow, cable without DVR isn't worth it.
a picture-in-picture feature that allows viewers to surf channels without switching channels - TV, cable, satellite have all have this for years,
an interactive program guide - Again, they've all had it for years.

If they aren't going to offer anything special, and they aren't going to have significantly lower prices, they can go ahead and call this a failure.

The only thing I see that's even halfway special is that the entire thing is going to be 'on-demand'. That's why the need to state fast channel switching, etc. They aren't going to play all channels all the time... They are only going to play the 2 channels (pic in pic) that you are currently watching, streamed from their CO. (Central Office, the local telephone switch in each city.) If they also made it so that the 'DVR' wasn't at my house, but was instead stored at the CO (it's not really a DVR, just a way to play back whenever I want) then I could see an advantage.

DVR Advantage: I missed Survivor this week because A) I forgot or B) The president had a fit and decided to tell the world, making every show in existance run later than normal. With CO-based DVR, I could just say 'I want to watch ep 785 of Survivor' and it plays it. No worries about storage space or recording mishaps. I'd even pay -extra- for this service. Take it a step further and let me watch Thursday's shows -any time- on Thursday, even before they 'air', and I'd be even happier.

But no, they'll totally miss the coolest aspects of this and instead try to merely match what everyone else already has.

Re:Let's break this down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296005)

fast channel changing - What's slow about pushing the button and the next channel is there? I can't even blink that fast.
My digital cable has a 2-3 second delay when changing channels.

Re:Let's break this down... (1)

phrasebook (740834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296049)

Ditto on the new TV my parents got. About 1.5 sec delay between channels (analog or digital). Major downgrade from the old tube. Me, I don't even have a TV. Parents think it's weird.

fast channel changing harder than you think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296179)

fast channel changing - What's slow about pushing the button and the next channel is there? I can't even blink that fast.

Actually fast channel changing is harder than you think. For multicast streaming, the channel change talks to the DSLAM up the road and says this is the service I want now (IP/port of the channel), the DSLAM switches to it if someone in the neighborhood already is on that channel (very fast), otherwise it needs to do some resource management and start receiving that channel, then send it on to the house. It's still very fast, but it might take a 1/2 second or so. Some good caching work of course can make it pretty instantainious, but we'll see if all the telco's do that right. And then the client software has to do all the switching and package checking and the like. That can be pretty instantainious if done right... then again, we'll see how they do.

But the poster has an excellent point. If all the IPTV providers do is offer the same. Then big yawn. It is still an alternative to the evil cable empire, which is a good thing. But come on, they're IP based. They can do anything interactive. They can integrate more powerful applications with TV. They can do all sorts of interactive applications. Come on people, innovate.

By the way, the DVR functionality is of course in the same set top box, you don't need a separate one just for DVR. An interesting thing about an IP based system though is that all of the boxes (and DVR(s)) are on the home network, so you can share.

Re:Let's break this down... (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296411)

blockquote>fast channel changing - What's slow about pushing the button and the next channel is there? I can't even blink that fast.Sure, with analog cable it's quick, but digital cable usually takes 1-2 seconds as does satellite (sometimes more) which may not seem like a long time, but it's long enough to virtually eliminate being able to quickly flip through channels to check out what's on.

three set-top boxes - Right, cuz 1 just wasn't enough.
Well, it's not really, most houses have more than one TV, necessitating more than one tuner. A lot of cable and satellite companies make you pay a monthly fee ($10 or so) for each additional tuner you get.

a digital video recorder - Is that ANOTHER box? Anyhow, cable without DVR isn't worth it.
I don't know about this service, but a lot of DVRs from cable companies have a tuner inside them as well so it's all in one box.

a picture-in-picture feature that allows viewers to surf channels without switching channels - TV, cable, satellite have all have this for years,
This is not totally true. I know when I had digital cable (Comcast) you could get picture in picture, but only if you also were paying for a DVR.

Re:Let's break this down... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296421)

Considering my cable TV provider offers a set top box that takes 2 seconds between channels, I can see why "fast channel switching" can be something to advertise when talking set-top boxes.

Of course, it is about the crappiest box in existance and my cable provider doesn't really have a record for offering top line products so...

VDSL (2, Informative)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295869)

This sounds like vdsl (which allows about 80mb/sec bandwidth, with most of the bandwidth going to the video stream). My apartment building recently got vdsl, the advantages are that there is no need for every apartment wanting satellite TV to have to setup a satellite dish (it's not allowed here anyway). Also, we can get full speed dsl service without having to worry about line quality or being close to a Central Office. All the data is piped into the building through fiber optic cable, while using the existing cable infrastructure of the building to carry the signals to the individual apartment units.

Kansas City (1)

aussiedood (577993) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295887)

I have a friend who has been contracted with AT&T for the last 6 months to check the lines going into large apartment complexes for this service. So my guess is it won't be long before it is offered nation-wide.

Re:Kansas City (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296337)

Yep,

Here in SE KC I've had a 4 foot deep pit in my back yard for a month waiting for AT&T to upgrade their lines for this service. I originally was saying that there was no way in effing 'ell I would go to ATT&T for any service, Time Warner has completely craped out due to the rain. Since I personally saw the illegals clip the cable line with their shovels digging the pit in my yard, and knowing that time warner will never due anything about it, I'm now wondering what ATT&T is going to charge...

Honestly... (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295927)

... it's not a bad deal. For $74 a month, you can get cable, internet and phone. I pay 90 a month for a similar triple play deal from my cable provider right now... That said, I'm willing to bet that AT&T's internet offering is a lot slower than what I have right now. It's based on DSL technology, right?

Re:Honestly... (1)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296075)

90$/month!! what kind of speed do you get for that kind of money? I get 20Mbit and the triple play offer for 30/month over an ADSL line (France).

Re:Honestly... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296473)

That isn't saying anything though. What channels do you get? What is your calling plan like? etc...

Most calling plans [in Canada at least] are for unlimited local calls, and you can get various long distance. Vonage for instance [and most voip] is free or next to free for north america long distance. Last time I was in France, I saw calling plan advertisements that didn't include unlimited local calls, for instance.

Tom

Old news (2, Informative)

meburke (736645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295941)

This has been available in parts of Houston for about 4 months.

Re:Old news (1)

uninet (413687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296191)

It has actually been available in parts of Texas (as well as a few other areas -- I think part of Indiana) for almost a year, if not a year. I think it is suppose to be here in St. Louis by the end of the year. SAtechBlog.com has covered it very well from the time it was in trial mode. I can't believe Slashdot didn't catch how old this news was, as you say!

Read all about it here.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295965)

http://www.uverseusers.com/ [uverseusers.com]

OLD... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295971)

This has been out for like.. a year... I only know because I work there. Nice try though. BTW, some other features are Setup/Control Recordings via the web and your AT&T/Cingular phone, complete FTTN or FTTP (depending on where you are), 1st 2 months free with no contract.

The DVR is 1 of your STB's, eventually they're going to get a whole house DVR. You also get a 2wire RG, one of the best RG's in existance.

I've already got this (4, Informative)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295977)

Our house signed up for U-Verse a few weeks ago. We've got about 350 channels. It's actually delivered by fiber to a node down the block, then a specialized DSL connection that's 6 Mb/s connection. The service is extremely location specific. Our next door neighbors can't get it, so we're right on the edge.

The TV is H.264 encoded and streamed over IP to the DVR box. You can record up to 4 standard definition channels, or a single HD channel, while watching another. The standard def television looks better than regular standard def. More like 480p. The 'Hi def' channels look similar to 720p but with noticeable compression, and the occasional dropped frame. If someone were really looking for full 1080i HD, highest possible quality, I'd have some reservations recommending it. But the SD looks good enough that we're pretty happy with it. A lot of what we watch is still only on the SD channels.

Since everything is streaming, it always buffers about 90 minutes worth of footage of whatever you're watching (a la tivo). It also has some neat features like being able to show thumbnail previews of channels while you're surfing around, along with a representation of how far into the show it is.

Overall, the DVR functions are quite primitive. Its can be difficult to make the recordings you want. There doesn't seem to be any way to make only recordings of new episodes of Stargate SG1 (This is slighly less of a problem since there's only like 4 episodes left in the series. This was the only show we record that had problems.

For TV + broadband for under $100, its well worth it for us.

Re:I've already got this (1)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296103)

That may not be completely their problem. SciFi is notorious for not tagging their shows properly. My comcast box and my Media center both cannot filter out rerun vs first run on SciFi, and they both have the option.

Not just California . . . (3, Informative)

The Llama King (187264) | more than 7 years ago | (#19295989)

It's also being offered in some Texas communities, including [chron.com] Houston [chron.com] .

U-verse Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19295991)

Parts of San Antonio have had the service for over a year.

Check this site out to find out more about U-verse:

http://www.uverseusers.com/ [uverseusers.com]

Unfortunately, I am too far from any of the boxes to get the service yet.

3screens.net also has some comparisons between cable vs. U-verse.

Pricing... (0, Redundant)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296031)

How much is this going to cost? I hope it's not an arm, a leg and the first born of the next five generations that some cable companies charge.

Atlanta has been beta testing this for a while... (0, Redundant)

outz (448278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296073)

Via Bellsouth. It's rumored to be rolled out to other major BS areas towards the end of the year.

http://www.bims.bellsouth.net/bei_atl/index.htm [bellsouth.net]

Re:Atlanta has been beta testing this for a while. (1)

Natomui (821656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296175)

Bellsouth was recently acquired by AT&T. It's probably where they got their technology - playing the M$ game of innovation.

Re:Atlanta has been beta testing this for a while. (1)

nanoflower (1077145) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296305)

Interesting. I hadn't heard anything about it, but I also didn't see anything that suggested they were using the new technology. I had Americast from Bellsouth years ago (probably 1999 or so) until MediaOne took over the service to my complex, and then got bought out by Comcast. I also don't see anything about the combined services so I think what Atlanta is getting is the old fiber delivery to the node that Americast used back then, and not the VDSL service that AT&T is likely using for the new system.

And Your Viewing Habits Can Also Be Monitored (1, Interesting)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296085)

By AT&T... and dutifully turned over to the Bush administration, and just like your phone logs -- without a warrant ever being presented.

Re:And Your Viewing Habits Can Also Be Monitored (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296521)

Your post was modded flamebait. This must mean the moderators are expecting it to attract the angry flames of AT&T devotees and wiretapping aficionados.

Since nobody has flamed you yet, I think it's my civic duty fulfill the moderators' expectations:


What's wrong with AT&T wiretapping its customers? AT&T _owns_ the network, idiot. I suppose next you'll want to prevent amusement park operators from chopping off their customers' heads for the entertainment of visiting politicians. Let me give you a clue, bozo: this is America, and if they want to chop their customers' heads off on their own property, that is fully within their rights.

We aren't some commie fascist regime that goes around banning things like warrantless wiretapping and torture willy-nilly. If you want that, go to France, then you can surrender along with the rest of the "human rights supporters" HA HA HA. I'll be staying here, defending my government's right to rule with an Iron Fist of Holy Retribution, while you're surrendering like a whimpering baby. Islamofascist!


I hope that helps.

This is old news of a much-delayed release (2, Funny)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296117)

AT&T is using Microsoft's trouble-laden [seekingalpha.com] IPTV software.

the MS part is total crap (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296247)

It's quite sad really.

The rest of the world is running nicely via standard MHP/GEM-IPTV based systems, and for years before that earlier subsets of those standards. But for the US the telco's got suckered into MS. Apparently the MS execs talked to the teclo execs and made them offers (server software for discounts, etc., etc.), and now the teclos are stuck with crap.

In Europe you have ISP's serving 100,000 - 500,000 users per server. In the US will the MS crap, the telco's have to use one server for every few hundered users. Really sad.

And of course the TV software is total crap. Oh well. Better luck next time telcos. Here's a wild idea, have some technical people help you with those big technology decisions.

Re:the MS part is total crap (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296519)

And of course the TV software is total crap.

From TFA:

[AT&T] Executives on the conference call made sure to point out that delays in the IPTV service had been caused by software issues [Microsoft] and did not reflect any problems with the network architecture [AT&T].
AT&T looks to be distancing themselves from Microsoft's IPTV disaster.

Not new in the least (1)

Natomui (821656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296149)

By the way - was this made clear enough that this really isn't an innovation? I had this at my dorm through PurDigital (Biltmore Communications) a year ago in Atlanta. Way to go - a corporate behemoth taking years to catch up to a more innovative and agile competitive company, and then calling it something new and fantastic. Way to disenfranchise companies that may have a slight modicum of interest in the consumer. Biltmore also owned and operated the city's only publicly available WiFi, and operated at a loss so that GSU Faculty and Staff could take advantage of it. Their contract with the city screwed them...like most municipal policies of Atlanta. Anyway - I just wish someone would come out with something worth being ./-ed. For once, please.

Re:Not new in the least (1)

AlphaDrake (1104357) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296161)

Yeah, we have even had this up here in Canada for quite some time now (Telus) although I haven't gotten the chance to try it out yet. I usually just.. ahem... "borrow" the shows I watch from the internet.

Re:Not new in the least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296533)

Purdigital is not even close to on par with what AT&T is rolling out. Doesn't even have HD. And as much as I like Biltmore, let's be honest, the IPTV innovation isn't theirs, nor AT&T's - its Myrio's and Microsoft's, respectively. Kudos to Biltmore for having fiber in some dense places, like apartment complexes and dorms, but you're never going to have Biltmore/Purdigital at a house. Its an apples to oranges thing.

In the civilised world... (1)

samj (115984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296209)

In France we have free [free.fr] , which gives us 28Mbit ADSL (1Mbit up) with a static, 200 TV Channels (HD ready) and a phone line with unlimited free calls to 49 countries for a whisker inside EUR30 a month. These guys are making a profit of this too. It amazes me what you guys put up with in the US when it comes to voice & data connectivity, let alone entertainment! We have two for good measure.

I'd be interested to hear what you would pay for an equivalent service over there - I figure it's at least 3 figures and quite probably an order of magnitude more expensive.

Re:In the civilised world... (1)

nanoflower (1077145) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296343)

It's not as good as what you get but Comcast offer something like it for an introductory rate of around $99 for HS Internet (probably the 6 MBit package for most of the nation though some areas might get the 16Mbit if there is competition), Digital Phone service (free long distance through the US and some other locations) and Digital TV service. I think the rate goes to around $120/month after the first year when the introductory rate is over.

Re:In the civilised world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296369)

I would hope that with competitive preasure, the speed increase to allow for IPTV will be around the same price as the 5 or more Mpbs you find now (say around $20 - $45usd). But when bundled for TV service (perhaps similar packags to cable), then add another $20 - $100usd depending on packages and movie channels selected. Like with satellite, I would guess you can opt for an entry level set up with only one set top box (one channel) with 5 - 10Mbps to serve it, and a very simple TV package all for around $30usd. If the telco's can't do such configurations, then I'd guess they won't be competitive with cable.

If the telco's have to spend too much on infrastructure, or can't get the taxpayers to pay for it all like they usually do, then it might take a long time, if ever, for IPTV to get out of large cities. So perhaps IPTV will never take hold in the US. But I think the writing is on the wall for the US talcos, if they can't do it, they just may be history.

And of course it will be a big irony if they finally get IPTV to the masses around the same time as spoon fed TV becomes obsolete.

Re:In the civilised world... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296373)

While I won't defend the companies in the US or Canada [cuz honestly they're probably hording anyways] but we do have more surface area here.

France is a "bit" smaller than Canada, and by bit I mean 14.79x smaller [14.27x smaller than USA]. Obviously it's cheaper to cover France than Canada or the states.

Tom

Re:In the civilised world... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296461)

Bon jour, mon ami. I don't sit even a thousand miles from you and I can only dream of a service like yours, despite sitting in the same EU.

Could it be that your company has some competition where you happen to be?

Re: where people aren't arrogant jerks (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296469)

Not sure what you mean by HD ready? Do you actually get HD channels?

I pay $109 per month for 30 Mbps down - 5 Mbps up IP service. All ports unlocked so I can and do run servers. TV is 331 channels including about 20 HD channels (4 are first run movie channels), and VOIP service. So while it is more expensive I do get some added features. It is definitely not close to an order of magnitude more expensive - if you consider taxes etc. I'd bet more like 2x, but with better features.

doesn't sound too unfamiliar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296249)

Here in the UK a service similar to this is being rolled out by British Telecom called 'BT Vision' which is more or less the same thing, it seems.

essentially what it boils down to is a freeview digital box with a download-on-demand broadband capability, which leaves something to be desired in my opinion. I hope AT&T can capitalise on this concept better than BT seem to have in a market where Sky and cable companies can offer you better service, cheaper and with less hassle.

Other areas too... (2, Informative)

BlueOtto (519047) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296263)

will be available in parts of Southern California communities initially.

It is also available in San Antonio, TX, Dallas, TX, Austin, TX, Milwaukee, WI, and Indianapolis, IN. Source [att.com]

Re:Other areas too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296487)

It's also in Detroit. They are running TV ads for FREE HD for one year.

But... I already have that... (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296313)

I already have that,(a BIG THANKS to all you tivo-ists out there, thanks for sharing), with a 3mb connection and bittorrent. It ain't rocket-surgery folks, I watch the shows a day later sometimes but I WATCH THEM WITHOUT COMMERCIALS, when I want and if i deem it necessary to HAVE them around I keep them, (another BIG THANKS the 500gb HD manufacturers). So while they try herding those cats, I'll be watching Dr. Who in sunny southern California. Thank you Nikola Tesla.

Re:But... I already have that... (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296341)

Yeah, you are teh smart, obviously the solution is for nobody to pay for the shows. OMG I wish I could be smart like yous. Can you teaches me these skillz?

STFU NEWB!

Hmm... (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296327)

The Spice Channel brought to you by AT&T.

AT&T: The Future of Phone Sex.

Personal experience (1)

satsuke (263225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296355)

This service has been available (and my relatives have had it) for a few months in the Kansas City Kansas (overland park) area.

First off, the system takes a little getting used to .. you can have 4 seperate video streams online at once (with the DVR counting for two as needed). If you attempt to turn the 5th unit on (parents have 5) you will get a resource not available message.

This is exactly what is sounds like video over IP. They co-op the existing coax cable outlets for existing cable extentions .. but they run cat5 for all new outlets.

The only difference between the local time warner and this service is a small delay in changing all channels (since all are digital .. no analog of any kind naturally) and the fact that they remap the local broadcast channels to their original positions.

They include a 2wire router .. not much else to say about it. The manual refers to using a WEP key and SSID .. they actually configure WPA ., there is no option for a hardwired connection from what I saw.

As far as the actual offering, it appears comperable to cable or directtv ,. some of the choices are a little weird, and the "basic cable" offerings are a different in terms of selections .. but that seems to vary where you live anyway.

Verizon FiOS? (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296401)

So can the people that can get this join the 5 people out there that can get Verizon's FiOS service? I mean really, what's the point of these announcements when the tech isn't available to 99% of the rest of the country?

Sorry, I'm just sore at my current broadband options as I look to get a house. There doesn't seem to be any way to get digital cable (one box at that) and Internet anywhere from 3-4Mb down (either cable or DSL) for less than 90 bucks a month. And this was after *finally* finding a house in mid-Michigan that *had* broadband available. Cable penetration is almost nil here, in 2007. DSL is available to some places, but I don't want satellite TV, and don't need local phone service as I use my cell phone as my main phone. So I can expect to see this offering from ATT or something from Verizon somewhere in about 15 years, right?

Why from the provider... (2)

alyawn (694153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296409)

Why does TV over IP have to come from the Internet provider? I'm really getting annoyed by all of this bundling of services. Here's what I'd like... a good, fast internet connection. Period. Let me worry about what I'm getting over that connection. Phone/TV/Music/Email. For once I'd love to see a company boast: We give you a rock solid, fast connection to the Internet and that's it. Enjoy.

I currently have Comcast (previously Adelphia). Back in the Adelphia days I had the internet only package. Life was good. Since the buyout, I have Comcast Internet plus a $15.00 you forgot to sign up for cable tv fee. I also have Vonage and use iTunes to purchase shows of interest. I'd love to subscribe to a few IPTV channels from say... the networks that air them. Does that make any sense? Or, is this the kind of thing that actually requires dedicated telco hardware to implement?

Re:Why from the provider... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19296463)

Net neutrality, etc. Only the ISP can guarantee the quality of service to your home

Re:Why from the provider... (1)

alyawn (694153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296493)

Net neutrality, etc. Only the ISP can guarantee the quality of service to your home
You obviously don't have Comcast... Do you?

If you think AT&T sucks then check Douche Tele (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296419)

Yes, Slashdot-Kameraden, you can get the same kind of service from Deutsche Telekom
where they call it T-Home.

T-Home Classic (USD 68.26/m): Access to PPV movies, 6Mbit downstream DSL connection,
internet flat rate, access to overpriced internet phone srevice, outrageous phone plan.
T-Home Basic (USD 93.04/m): Access to PPV movies, Basic channels most you can get
over the air anyways, internet flat rate, access to overpriced internet phone service,
outrageous phone plan.
cellular.
T-Home Complete Plus (USD 112.98/m): Access to PPV movies, Basic channels, a set of
Premium channels, internet flat rate, access to overpriced internet phone service,
outrageous phone plan.

Oh and the "receiver" you have to use isn't free either, that's another USD 132.98

Telekom Heil!

That service has been here for ages (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19296475)

Hmm... video on demand, over a phone line, using "internet technology"... you're talking about bittorrent.
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