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AT&T launches IPTV

Pricey, but with cheap broadband attached

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AT&T has at last launched its delayed internet-based TV service - but only in San Antonio, Texas. Verizon took its own baby steps into IPTV last autumn, also choosing Texas for the launch of its own offering, called Fios TV. AT&T, in its previous incarnation as SBC, had originally scheduled the launch of IPTV for Q4 2005. A comprehensive roll out won't now take place until next year.

But the prices AT&T has set for its U-verse service might not have the cable competition panicking about their margins just yet. The entry-level U-verse package starts at $69, and the premium service costs $114 a month. That's comparable to cable, but U-verse does, however, include internet options up to 6Mbits/s.

The Bells have fought off a regulatory ambush in Congress - "net neutrality" legislation that would have hampered their IPTV plans - they're providing the first real competition for the entrenched cable monopolies. It'll be harder to make that case again, if prices remain at cosy, cable monopoly levels.

AT&T hopes to launch the service in up to 20 markets by the end of the year. The fiber investment cost AT&T, or rather SBC, around $4bn, and it uses Microsoft's IPTV software - one of the few bright spots in what has proved a hard sell for Redmond. ®

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