AT&T Expecting to Hit 1 Million U-Verse Subs

1/25/2008 7:00 PM Eastern

Far from throwing in the towel on U-verse TV, AT&T said it has dramatically picked up the pace for the service and claimed it’s on pace to reach 1 million subscribers by the end of this year.

AT&T had 231,000 U-verse TV subscribers at the end of 2007, up 83% from 126,000 three months earlier. At the end of 2006, the IPTV service had just 3,000 paying customers.

“The ramp in our AT&T U-verse TV service accelerated, and we are on track to reach more than 1 million subscribers by the end of 2008,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in announcing the company’s fourth quarter and year-end earnings last week.

The telco said its U-verse TV weekly install rate in mid-December was approximately 12,000, beating a year-end target of 10,000 per week.

Its 2007 numbers make AT&T one of the top 20 video service providers in the U.S., according to figures compiled by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. If AT&T tops 1 million, it would break into the top 10.

Verizon Communications, which reported 717,000 FiOS TV subscribers as of the end of September, is expected to announce year-end 2007 subscriber figures on Jan. 28.

Last month, AT&T announced it would extend its U-verse buildout to include nine Southeast states — former BellSouth territory — with plans to reach 30 million living units in 22 states by the end of 2010.

For the fourth quarter of 2007, AT&T’s growth in total video connections, including satellite services provided by DirecTV and Dish Network, increased by 235,000 to 2.3 million.

In 2007 AT&T’s total video connections increased 55.4%. At the end of the year, 7.6% of its primary consumer line customers subscribed to either U-verse TV or one of the satellite services resold by AT&T, up from 4.6% one year prior. AT&T has said it will stop reselling DirecTV service in the former BellSouth region in favor of Dish in the first quarter of 2008.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, AT&T reported revenues of $30.3 billion and net income of $3.1 billion, on the strength of “record wireless gains.” AT&T posted a net gain of 2.7 million wireless subscribers, up 13.5% from 2.4 million net adds in the year-earlier fourth quarter.

The wireless growth was driven by retail postpaid net adds, AT&T said, along with its acquisition of Dobson Communications, which added 1.7 million subscribers. AT&T ended the year with 70.1 million wireless subscribers.

Stephenson, at a financial conference earlier this month, said that wireless telephony — not wireline service — will anchor AT&T’s triple-play bundle of the future, and that the company will be more aggressive this year in promoting bundles that include wireless phone service.

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