AT&T's U-verse experience combines best of TV, wireless


DALLAS—AT&T Inc. is connecting a great TV experience with a great wireless experience to drive growth in its U-verse product, said Jeff Weber, VP of video services, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. The company recently introduced some updates to its U-verse product to make it even more compelling, and going forward, expects even more interaction between wireless devices and Internet TV.
While Qualcomm Inc.’s FLO TV didn’t pan out, the connection between TV and wireless is getting stronger nevertheless. While the number of Internet TV subscribers at the nation’s two largest wireless operators are still small compared to their cable competitors (3.7 million TV subs at Verizon and 3.2 million at AT&T as of the first quarter), both companies are growing.
Both AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. have steadily increased their Internet TV revenues and subscribers. Verizon Wireless is preloading Netflix in the LG Electronics Co. Ltd. new Froyo LTE device. AT&T offers U-verse Mobile on 14 devices and four operating systems. U-verse Mobile lets customers record TV shows and such from their mobile devices, but also allows end users to side-load shows to their mobile devices so they can take that content with them on the road. As tablets become more popular, Weber said he expected them to be part of the U-Verse experience as well, once content rights are resolved.
Verizon’s FiOS TV customers can also control their services wireless, including a FiOS Mobile Remote that turns Apple Inc. devices or Android devices into a remote control for a FiOS HD set-top box and remote DRV access, among other things.
Indeed, the connection between TV, broadband and wireless could become a differentiator for telecom operators. Telecom, cable and wireless operators have all expounded the benefits of bundled services, but one could argue that few have done anything to make the service special; rather bundles are more often than not about a discounted price for multiple services. That seems to be changing, however, as top operators are using the bundle to offer customers something more.
Weber can see people using their wireless devices to find out ancillary information about the TV show they are watching. Typically, customers want to watch TV on the biggest screen they have access to, but complimentary content will enhance the experience, he said. People can get additional information like stats about a game or biography information about an actor using AT&T wireless device. Possibilities abound, Weber noted.
That combination is important because bundled subscribers drive average revenue per user. At AT&T, U-verse subscribers are big spenders. More than 75% of AT&T U-verse TV subscribers have a triple or quadruple play option from AT&T, and the ARPU for the U-verse bundle of TV, mobile and Internet clocks in at $168, up 14.3% from a year ago. Verizon reported that first-quarter FiOS ARPU of more than $146.
AT&T recently expanded its Multiview offering, which allows customers to watch several shows at once. The operato’s Cubs Multiview allows users to see a Chicago Cubs home baseball game from a variety of camera angles. To see a video of U-verse, watch here.

About Author

Tracy Ford

Former Associate Publisher and Executive Editor, RCR Wireless News
Currently HetNet Forum Director
Ford has spent more than two decades covering the rapidly changing wireless industry, tracking its changes as it grew from a voice-centric marketplace to the dynamic data-intensive industry it is today. She started her technology journalism career at RCR Wireless News, and has held a number of titles there, including associate publisher and executive editor. She is a winner of the American Society of Business Publication Editors Silver Award, for both trade show and government coverage. A graduate of the Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Ford holds a B.S. degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis on public relations.