What’s Ahead For U-Verse?

AT&T’s gambit to go all-IP from the start with U-verse was a smooth move, particularly on the apps front. While cable struggled to do anything exciting and new in the QAM video world without having to go through months of regression testing, AT&T’s IP platform has enabled it to sprint out in front and offer dozens of apps.

Cable operators, meanwhile, are in catch-up mode as they start the IP migration process.  Comcast’s X1 platform offers only a small set of set of apps. RCN unleashed a whopping 98 apps when it introduced the Opera TV Store on its TiVo platform last month. Verizon hopes to accelerate FiOS TV's IPTV shift after acquiring Intel Media's OnCue assets.

AT&T, meanwhile, has an advantage over them in that it’s already doing it all on IP. There’s no migration path to take. It’s already there.

“What 100% IP does is, it allows us to really upgrade our customer base,” GW Shaw (pictured at left), AT&T’s vice president, U-verse and video services, said in a recent interview. “[Whether] you were the very first customer we brought on or you’re the customer I brought on last week, you have the same U-verse TV service.”

But there are areas where AT&T U-verse TV is playing catchup – electronic sell-through and the cloud DVR among them.

U-verse hasn’t committed to an EST strategy, which is now part of the FiOS TV and Comcast video arsenals, but AT&T “is absolutely looking at what our opportunities are with electronic sell-through,” Shaw said.

Comcast has also rolled out a cloud-DVR product in Boston that runs on its X1 platform, and is expected to expand deployments to other markets in its northeast corridor soon, with Chicago rumored to be among the cities further out west that could get it by this summer.

“We’re analyzing our options as well on what we could or couldn’t do to have the content rights work with [a cloud DVR],” Shaw said.

“The technology doesn’t scare me at all on it,” Shaw said of the cloud DVR. “It’s all of the other pieces … that have to fall in line to make that experience [work] the right way and to deliver the kind of experience that a customer would find exemplary.”

To read more about what’s ahead for U-verse, check out the story here (subscription required).