AT&T fast tracks IPTV

Contending that its IPTV technology is now performing better than expected, AT&T said last week that it's ready to ramp up deployments in 2007.

News of the planned expansion came from AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre during the company's fourth-quarter 2006 earnings call and was reported by CNET. Whitacre said that by the end of 2007, AT&T's U-verse IPTV service would be available to 8 million homes.

So far, AT&T's IPTV service is available to only a handful of subscribers in 11 markets. This limitation on deployment is due to a series of technical glitches encountered by the telco, CNET reported.

Executives at the conference insisted that the delays had been caused by software issues and did not reflect any problems with the network architecture.

Unlike Verizon, which has chosen to install new fiber that reaches directly into subscribers' homes, AT&T is bringing fiber into neighborhoods and then connecting to existing copper wiring for the last leg of delivery to the customer. This technology is called VDSL (very high bit rate DSL).

Though this fiber-to-the-node approach is much less expensive than Verizon's fiber-to-the-home strategy, it's also riskier because of bandwidth limitations, CNET said.