AT&T Eases Out Whole-Home DVRs

AT&T last week launched U-verse Total Home DVR, which will let customers play back standard- and high-definition recorded programs on any TV connected to the telco’s set-top boxes in the home.

Initially, the feature — available at no extra cost to U-verse TV subscribers — is available only to customers in San Francisco. AT&T said it plans to roll out whole-home DVR to all U-verse TV customers by the end of 2008.

Using the whole-home DVR feature, customers can access, play, pause, rewind and fast-forward up to four simultaneous HD and SD DVR recordings to U-verse-connected TVs (with a maximum of three recorded HD streams). The feature can be accessed from up to seven additional U-verse-connected TVs.

Users also can pause a recorded show and pick it up in another room, and record up to four programs on a single DVR. AT&T’s DVR service allows subscribers to store up to 37 hours of HD content or up to 133 hours of standard-definition content.

The service uses the HomePNA Alliance’s 3.1 standard, which provides in-home data rates of 320 Megabits per second.

The whole-home feature was developed by Microsoft, and is part of the software giant’s Mediaroom IPTV platform.

In the future, AT&T said, it plans to add the ability to schedule recordings and pause or control live TV from non-DVR receivers.

AT&T said customers will not have to replace their current set-top boxes. The telco will update customers’ equipment on a market-by-market basis.

AT&T isn’t the first video provider to deliver a whole-home DVR service. Verizon Communications has offered an option for whole-home DVR features for two years with FiOS TV, although the feature currently plays back only standard-definition content on the additional outlets.