LAS VEGAS -- Telco TV 2012 -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has deployed more than 1 million wireless receivers that let customers tap into the U-verse TV platform in rooms that don't have a traditional television outlet, Maria Dillard, VP of U-verse and video products, revealed during the last of TelcoTV's Thursday keynotes.
AT&T introduced the 802.11n-based product almost one year ago and recently began to crank up those efforts by offering free wireless receivers to customers who sign on for certain U-verse product bundles. AT&T, which ended the third quarter with 4.34 million U-verse TV subscribers, lets customers use up two wireless receivers.
In addition to giving customers a wireless way to connect to U-verse, the product is helping AT&T cut down on the installation costs typically required to configure home wiring, Dillard said. AT&T also gives customers an option to self-install the wireless receivers.
The wireless receiver is just one way AT&T is trying to differentiate with U-verse and to keep customers engaged with the IPTV service. Dillard spent most of her time discussing the progress AT&T has made with its video applications platform. The number of apps available on U-verse at any given time fluctuates, but Diller says it's typically around 30.
And AT&T is giving lots of attention to TV apps that use or synch up with tablets and smartphones. Dillard said recent AT&T research shows that 65 percent to 70 percent of U-verse customers use companion devices several times a week while they watch TV.
Some sample apps for U-verse include a Facebook integration and personalized "Multiview" mosaics that show the feeds of several live TV feeds all at once. AT&T has also developed a version of Multiview for Chicago Cubs games that lets fans watch from multiple camera angles.
AT&T is also encouraging third-party development through an API program. Among the newer "U-verse-enabled" apps to emerge from that effort is TwonkyBeam, which lets users grab Web video from a tablet or smartphone and "beam" it wirelessly to the TV.
"Driving the customer enhancement is what this is all about," Dillard said of U-verse's video application initiatives. But flashy and fancy don't always win. To drive customer adoption, service providers need to keep those applications simple, she added.
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