AT&T's Fiber U-verse Expands to Houston

AT&T is pulling a Texas two-step and growing eastward beyond its pilot market of San Antonio to roll out its next Internet-based fiber TV service in Houston. The telco's fledging television project includes nearly 30 HD channels, DVR-enhanced set-top boxes, and other competitive features designed to take on cable (HD Notebook, Nov. 29, 2006).

The service, dubbed U-verse, taps into Internet Protocol technology; HD channels can only be viewed using the Motorola VIP 1216 HD set-top box. According to the Houston Chronicle, the U-verse platform will be available in limited areas around Houston. (AT&T would not identify areas to be affected, or their target number of subscribers.)

Beyond HD channels, AT&T said its U-Verse Houston customers will be able to choose from among a "few hundred special-interest channels in a manner similar to navigating the Internet." (Cable competitor Time Warner also uses an IP network, but only for its VOD services.)

AT&T launched U-verse in San Antonio earlier this year and said it now has more than 3,000 customers. In recent days, the telco inked a content pact with NBC Universal and HDNet, and a software deal with Microsoft.