NEW YORK (Reuters) - Top U.S. phone company AT&T Inc upgraded the video recording function of its Internet-based television service called U-verse, stepping up its competition against cable service providers.
Bundling high-speed Internet and video with phone services is a key part of AT&T’s strategy as it struggles to retain customers who are increasingly canceling landlines in favor of mobile phones and alternative services from cable companies.
AT&T’s improved U-verse digital video recorder (DVR), called Total Home DVR, will enable users to record and play back multiple programs on different television sets around the house, a plus for big families, AT&T said on Tuesday.
Up to eight television sets will be able to access recordings from a single DVR, compared with the limit of one TV per DVR for most cable services, AT&T said. Total Home DVR can record up to four shows simultaneously, compared with two for cable.
The free upgrade will be deployed to all customers by the end of the year. It needs no visits from technicians or any new hardware as the advanced Internet protocol television (IPTV) system allows AT&T to upgrade its software remotely.
Vince Vittore, an analyst at technology research firm Yankee Group, said the upgrade highlighted a key advantage of
“It’s the beginning of how they’re going to differentiate themselves with cable and satellite,” he said. “It’s an all IP platform, so they have the opportunity to roll out applications quickly in a very nationwide way,” he said.
Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, editing by Richard Chang