Telcos Boost HD Offerings

AT&T and Verizon both announced Monday new HD program offerings for their
pay-TV services, which currently serve some 2 million and 2.7 million
subscribers, respectively.

AT&T’s U-verse, which announced that it hit the 2 million-sub mark last
week, has added five new linear HD channels: basic networks Cartoon Network HD,
MSNBC HD and TV One HD, which are all available today, and TBN HD, which will
be available tomorrow; along with premium network “WFN: World Fishing Network
HD.” U-verse has added some 30 HD channels this year and now offers over 115 in
total. The AT&T service also added two international standard-def channels:
the 24-hour Filipino-language VivaTV Plus, as part of the Filipino Package; and
the Cantonese-language TVBe, for $17 a month.

“Customers don’t think of HD as bonus content anymore,” said Dan York, EVP of
content and programming for AT&T Converged Services, in a statement. “HD is
now the norm. Our customers expect the best when it comes to HD, and that’s why
we continue to add more and more HD to our lineup.”

FiOS TV, which reported 2.7 million subscribers in its third-quarter earnings,
has added HDNet and HDNet Movies to its video-on-demand (VOD) service,
including access to over 20 hours of HDNet programming and over 25 movies every
month from HDNet Movies. Dallas-based HDNet cut a similar on-demand deal with
satellite service DirecTV last month.

Verizon also introduced Monday an on-screen self-help tool that can help
subscribers diagnose and solve problems with their TV service and simplify
programming of the remote control. The new TV version of the PC-based “In-Home
Agent” self-help tool, which is accessed via the “menu” button on the remote
control, uses the FiOS network to diagnose issues, report back to customers,
and then automatically fix problems. It is initially available to FiOS
customers in Texas, California and parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

"The In-Home Agent gives customers the choice and options they want, and
it saves time setting up, upgrading or managing their TV or Internet
service," said Bill Foshay, SVP of regional operations for Verizon, in a
statement. "Now, with our latest upgrade, the In-Home Agent appears on the
TV screen so customers can easily and conveniently manage their service

The new on-screen agent is being deployed coincident with an upgrade of the
Verizon Interactive Media Guide, which is being introduced progressively across
the FiOS footprint. The video service In-Home Agent is currently available in
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, greater Philadelphia and
Delaware, along with Texas and California.