AT&T U-Verse TV Hits Dallas-Fort Worth, Milwaukee

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The largest market in Texas has access to AT&T U-verse TV, with the telco now offering the service in limited areas of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan statistical area.

The telco last week announced its intention to launch in Dallas-Forth Worth, followed by Kansas City later in March. The major incumbent operator in Dallas is Time Warner Cable, while in Fort Worth, it's Charter Communications. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex encompasses 12 counties in the northeast part of the state.

As in its other markets, AT&T is offering HDNet and HDNet Movies -- channels backed by Dallas dot-com billionaire Mark Cuban -- to customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

With the addition of Dallas-Fort Worth and Kansas City, U-verse TV will be available in parts of 15 markets in six states. AT&T had expected to reach 15 markets by the end of 2006.

The addition of Dallas-Fort Worth follows last week’s launch of the IPTV service in limited areas of Milwaukee and Racine, Wis. -- even as a federal lawsuit filed by the city of Milwaukee seeking to block the rollout remains unresolved.

On Dec. 20, the city of Milwaukee filed a suit against the United States’ largest telco in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Wisconsin, Milwaukee division, asking the court to declare whether U-verse TV is a cable product and seeking to force AT&T to pay cable-franchise fees. The city also sought a preliminary injunction against AT&T until the parties could work out an agreement.

Vince Moschella, deputy city attorney for Milwaukee, confirmed that the lawsuit against AT&T is still pending. However, he added, the city is at the same time “attempting to negotiate an interim operating agreement” with the telco.

AT&T spokeswoman Jenny Parker said the telco proceeded with the rollout in Milwaukee because “we are in good-faith negotiations with the city of Milwaukee and [are] making some progress.”

AT&T notified the city 30 days ago of its launch plans, Parker said, and it made a “binding commitment” to the main issues the municipal government cares about -- revenue sharing and support for public, education and government (PEG) channels. “The commitments will remain in effect while any legal issues are resolved either through a settlement with the city or the courts,” she said.

Time Warner Cable is the incumbent cable provider in both Milwaukee and Racine.

AT&T initially deployed U-verse TV in June in San Antonio, where the company is based. It announced service availability in parts of Houston in November and then in nine other markets in late December.

The company suspended marketing activities behind U-verse TV in October as it ironed out some glitches with the IPTV software provided by Microsoft. Starting in mid-February, the telco resumed direct-marketing efforts, including employing door-to-door sales representatives in neighborhoods where U-verse TV service is available, the company said.

AT&T said it now has about 7,000 U-verse TV subscribers. It reported having 3,000 as of Dec. 31, 2006, which was unchanged from the previous quarter.

And in other U-verse TV news, adding to a lineup that already tops 300 channels, AT&T will carry three ION Media Networks channels.

Under the agreement, AT&T will carry ION Television, ION’s flagship network, which features a broad mix of series, movies, sports and specials targeted to families and viewers of all ages.

Additionally, U-verse TV will offer ION’s recently launched 24-hour digi-nets: qubo, a bilingual, educational children’s network focused on literacy and values; and ION Life, promoting active lifestyles, personal growth and wellness.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

ION Media Networks changed the name of its network from Pax TV to i in 2005, then renamed it ION Television last month.

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