U-verse TV Pitched to Chicago Suburbs - Multichannel

U-verse TV Pitched to Chicago Suburbs

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AT&T is blowing U-verse TV into more than 175 communities surrounding the Windy City, in what the telco claimed is the largest initial rollout to date for the Internet Protocol TV service. 

The launch in northeastern Illinois -- where the telco primarily will challenge Comcast -- is the largest for U-verse in terms of how widely the service is available on Day One, AT&T spokeswoman Jenny Parker said, without providing specific numbers. 

AT&T last week announced it had racked up 231,000 U-verse TV subscribers at the end of 2007, up 83% from 126,000 three months earlier, and claimed it’s on track to reach 1 million subscribers by the close of this year.

U-verse services are available in parts of more than 175 Chicago-area communities, including Bellwood, Buffalo Grove, Crystal Lake, Dolton, Elmhurst, Harvey, Hoffman Estates, Melrose Park, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, River Grove, St. Charles and Waukegan. 

The launch comes after Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich last summer signed the Cable and Video Competition Law, which shifts franchising authority to state officials. The law also implements new customer-service rules, such as the minimum standards for installation, repair, telephone response time, billing, collections and services for the disabled. 

In a press release issued by AT&T, Illinois Sen. James Clayborne said, "For far too long, a lack of options for television services have cost consumers dearly. I am happy that this law that I sponsored is already delivering an unmatched video product using breakthrough technology." 

AT&T is touting its IPTV service as having more high-definition channels than local cable competitors, with U-verse TV offering a lineup of “more than 40 HD channels.” In the Chicago suburbs, Comcast offers 29 linear HD channels. 

U-verse TV offers five programming packages -- U100, U200, U300 and U400 packages, and U-family -- with pricing starting at $44 per month. 

Until Jan. 31, AT&T is offering new customers who order U200, U300 or U400 packages by phone a choice of one year of free HD service (normally $10 extra per month), $100 rebate or one free month of the package. Customers who order one of those packages online will receive $100 cash back and a free month of programming.