AT&T uses CES to reaffirm U-verse commitment
AT&T (NYSE: T) seems to be pretty committed to its U-verse IPTV service. The carrier used a series of CES 2013 announcements to demonstrate that it's expanding, not contracting, its IP-based video and other service offerings.
AT&T unveiled a $5-per-month video-on-demand TV Everywhere service, Screen Pack; a Digital Life home security/home automation play, for which Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) is providing a control panel, back office provisioning and applications life cycle management system; and two more apps, Twonky Beam and Pix & Flix, for its U-verse applications suite.
The Screen Pack service is available to customers as part of a free preview running through Jan. 13, giving them access to a library of movies that can be watched on TV and the U-verse app for tablets and smartphones. This service leverages the U-verse video service as well as the IP-based TV Everywhere package and is an apparent answer to competitive OTT providers like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) that have been eating away at MVPD video subscriber bases.
Digital Life, which will be commercially available in eight markets in March and an additional 50 markets throughout the year, is an offering that reflects AT&T's broadband service and its wireless commitment as well as the wider-reaching U-verse service. It offers "all-digital, wireless-based home security and automation," AT&T said, so customers can control homes via smartphone, tablet or PC.
"The home security and automation market is about to expand significantly. As the capabilities and usability of home automation solutions are dramatically improving, installation becoming easier, the value proposition is becoming a lot more attractive to consumers," said Roger Entner, founder and lead analyst of Recon Analytics, in an AT&T press release.
Digital Life customers will have access to a bunch of wirelessly enabled devices such as cameras, window/door sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, motion and glass break sensors, door locks, thermostats, moisture detection with water shut-off and the ability to control appliances and lighting.
"The unique combination of wireless technologies working together for Digital Life represents the future of in-home communications," said Joe Chow, vice president and general manager of connected devices with the Cisco Service Provider Video Technology Group.
The base package is smart security, but customers can add a video package that delivers live video from inside and outside the home and an energy package to control appliances, lighting and HVAC.
"Combined with AT&T's wireless network and unparalleled distribution channels, Digital Life will offer exciting new innovation," promised Kevin Petersen, senior vice president of AT&T Digital Life.
Finally, the carrier added the Twonky Beam app to let customers send compatible Internet video clips from mobile devices to the U-verse receiver to watch on a TV screen, among other functions, and Pix & Flix, an AT&T Labs creation, that lets customers use their broadband network to "throw" photos stored on mobile devices to the TV.
"These apps make it easier than ever to share your favorite photos and videos on a screen that's easy for everyone to gather around and watch," said Jeff Weber, president of content and advertising sales for AT&T Home Solutions.
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