AT&T: Hiking HD Fees?

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AT&T U-verse TV customers are getting notices that starting Nov. 10, the telco will introduce an HD Premium tier (which will include, among other channels, Universal HD) that apparently will cost a bit more than the current $10-per-mont-extra HD package, according to a posting at Engadget.

Customers will have to "upgrade their package" to continue receiving Universal HD and apparently future high-def additions to U-verse TV, the notices say. jumped on the story yesterday and says the HD Premium tier will be $5 extra. 

Asked for more information, an AT&T spokeswoman said, "This is one of our standard notifications to customers about new features that are coming in the future," but she wouldn’t confirm the details in those reports.

Note that Verizon is bifurcating its FiOS TV packages along HD lines. All its (nonpremium) HD cable channels are in the "Extreme HD" tier. That’s priced $10 per month more than the "Essentials" package, whose high-def options are limited to over-the-air broadcasts.

To me, this looks like telcos are starting to feel the effects of programming costs.

AT&T is allegedly nearing the 1 million mark, and Verizon’s at 1.6 million. But analysts say these new pay-TV entrants are sure to be paying top-dollar per-subscriber prices for programming compared with large MSOs.

Then again, Comcast is looking at an average rate hike of 3.7% nationwide. Verizon’s Extreme HD offering at $57.99 is still less than Comcast’s "standard service" in Maryland, for example, which is increasing from $56.40 to $60 as of Nov. 1.