Bit Rate

AT&T Cools Itself Off

8/31/2007 6:20 AM

If you have to take pains to persuade people you’re cool, perhaps you’re not. You know, like if you have to explain a joke, it’s not really funny anymore?

AT&T doth protest too much, I think, with the launch of The blog, maintained by the telco’s corporate communications staff, vows to provide info and commentary about U-verse TV "beyond what we’re often able to cover in an official press release." Blimey, release the hounds!

The URL, according to the site’s initial post by someone with the (cool?) pseudonym of AT&T News, "captures a simple truth of AT&T’s big idea."

Really. Never mind the question of whether the country’s biggest telephone company has any reasonable claim to coolness. What exactly makes U-verse cooler than cable? The site doesn’t go into specifics on the "big idea."

But there’s this document on AT&T’s site listing "10 Reasons AT&T U-verse Is Cooler Than Cable." I’ll list them here:

  1. More HD than most local cable providers currently offer
  2. Four-stream DVR recording
  3. AT&T Yahoo! Web and Mobile Remote Access to DVR
  4. Built-in Picture-in-Picture
  5. One-touch access to Video-on-Demand
  6. Fast channel-changing
  7. Free wireless home-networking
  8. Advanced parental controls
  9. Search by title or actor
  10. More than 320 channels of diverse content

The U-versers maybe have a point with numbers 1, 3 and 9. But not for long. Cable operators are fast carving out more space for HD (there goes bullet #1), devising features for remote-DVR programming (#3) and building new feature-rich interactive program guides (#9).

To me, nothing else on the list leaps out as significantly cooler than cable (i.e., worth switching over), or they’re features cable already offers. Picture-in-picture and parental controls? Cable operators offer those. Fast channel-change? If that’s a "big idea," don’t show me the small ones.

As for "four-stream DVR recording" – big deal. If you must have it, cable can do that with two set-tops. Besides, what AT&T doesn’t tell you is that U-verse currently lets you record just one HD stream at a time.

Of course, AT&T’s presumed cool trump card is that U-verse uses… Internet technology. Oooooooh.

Personally, I think QAMs are a lot cooler. Oh — and so does Verizon, though its inscrutable ads touting the FiOS "true QAM" seem to imply a QAM is something cable doesn’t have. Hmmm. Isn’t imitation the sincerest form of uncoolness?