AT&T Sets 2011 Rate Hikes For U-verse TV

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AT&T -- which once argued that telco competition would keep a lid on cable rates -- will increase monthly pricing for U-verse TV packages by up to 10% in early 2011, its second consecutive year of hikes.

Effective Feb. 1, 2011, the regular monthly price of U-verse TV packages will be: U-family, $54; U100, $59; U200, $69; U200 Latino, $79; U300, $84; and U450, $117. According to AT&T, customers on a current U-verse TV pricing promotion will continue to receive the promotional benefit until the applicable promotion ends.

For customers who ordered or will order a TV package from Feb. 1, 2009, through Jan. 31, 2011, the new rates represent increases of 2.4% to 9.3%.

The 2011 rates for some AT&T customers who ordered their current TV package before Feb. 1, 2009, will be slightly lower but all will go up. For these subscribers, the monthly price for existing U-family and U100 packages will increase from $49 to $54, or 10.2%; U200 will increase from $64 to $69 (7.8%); U300 will increase from $82 to $84 (2.4%); and U400 will increase from $104 to $109 (4.8%).

The top-tier U450 package has up to 410 channels; U300 has up to 340; U200 Latino has up to 300; U200 has up to 260; U100 has up to 150; and U-family has 80 channels.

In addition, in 2011, AT&T will increase prices for certain DSL and U-verse Internet packages by $2 or $5 per month. But there are no changes to the three fastest U-verse Internet packages -- Max (up to 12 Mbps), Max Plus (up to 18 Mbps) and Max Turbo (up to 24 Mbps) -- and pricing for U-verse Voice services is not changing.

In March 2006, Ed Whitacre, then CEO of AT&T, said at an industry trade conference that the telco's foray into pay TV "will almost certainly result in lower prices by cable television."

The latest rate increases come after AT&T in February 2010 announced price increases on all major U-verse TV packages, as well as on some Internet tiers and voice plans.

AT&T said the 2011 increases "reflect increased business costs, including costs associated with higher programming fees," in a letter about the rate hikes to Connecticut regulators last month.

The nation's No. 1 telco also noted that over the course of this year, U-verse added more TV programming and features such as mobile and online access to authenticated content, and My Multiview, which lets subscribers watch four channels on the same screen.

The price of AT&T's U-basic package, which includes only local TV broadcast stations, will remain unchanged at $19 per month. A one-time TV service activation fee of $29 applies to new U-verse TV customers.

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