Jeff Weber is vice president, IP Product and Strategy, for AT&T.
We’re hearing more and more about “three-screen” services. How will AT&T tie up its solutions over TV sets, PCs and mobile devices?
AT&T is making the three-screen vision a reality today. We recently announced the launch of AT&T Homezone, which integrates the TV set, PC and phone in convenient new ways. You can look at an online photo album from the TV set, enjoy digital music on your home entertainment system, and see your caller ID while you’re watching the latest VOD titles. U-verse TV is the next platform to deliver on the three-screen strategy. With an IP network, the convergence opportunities are almost endless because we can provide a new level of integration.
We feel we have a distinct advantage over our competitors in delivering on the promise of three-screen convergence because of our assets through Cingular, our U-verse IP portfolio, and our AT&T Yahoo! partnership.
Satellite and cable are locked up in a battle to offer more HD choices. What are AT&T’s plans to meet the HD challenge?
U-verse TV will really take the HD experience to a whole new level. We know that HD is important to our customers, and that’s why it’s extremely important to us. We are launching HD in San Antonio and Houston in late November and in all our other markets as we launch later this year. We’ve conducted an HD trial in Houston, and it has been very successful. The picture quality is amazing. We have several content agreements with leading providers for a wide selection of HD programming.
The thing that is most exciting about HD is that we’re delivering it over our switched IP network. Switched video gives us more channel capacity to offer the growing number of HD choices. For cable, adding more HD channels often requires them to sacrifice other content.
What service or product will have the biggest impact on AT&T subscribers over the next five years?
All of our services are important elements of the digital lifestyle, and we’re focused on delivering first-in-class products. But the thing we think will have the most impact on customers is the experience as a whole—the ability to access services and content on any device and get the same quality experience. Customers will be able to get what they want, when they want it, where they want it, and to tell us exactly how they want it. The ways we are integrating services will revolutionize how customers view and interact and enjoy their communications and entertainment services.
What has been AT&T’s biggest accomplishment in getting the U-verse system up and running?
When we first announced our U-verse vision and our Project Lightspeed strategy, there was skepticism in the industry. People wondered if our fiber strategy would provide enough bandwidth, wondered about the home network, wondered how we would fare in content agreements with Hollywood .… We’ve now answered all of those questions. In roughly two years, we have essentially created a brand-new industry from inception to launch. We’re in the market, preparing to scale to additional markets, and customers are enjoying our U-verse services today. We’re receiving positive feedback, and we’re excited to bring this to more consumers.
With the cable operators’ joint venture ramping up with Sprint Nextel late this year, what does AT&T see as the biggest challenge to keeping its wireless customers?
AT&T has a significant advantage and differentiation point because of our Cingular assets. Unlike our competitors, we can go beyond just a bundle. It’s about integration, and we’re in the position to do that faster and better than anyone in the market today.