Early IPTV Uses Only a Little of Its Fat Pipe
Tests of AT&T's U-verse TV service produced similar results. Our afternoon with U-verse started on the couch of an upscale home in San Ramon, California. Our host, Mike Batongbacal, said that he had purchased the middle tier of U-verse service, which provides 240 TV channels (including 25 coming in HD), one set-top box with a DVR, and two other set-top boxes without. AT&T asks customers for a whopping 7-hour window to set up the service; Batongbacal reports that his installation took nearly 8 hours--but he hasn't had to call U-verse support in the two weeks since it took place.
The U-verse channel lineup contains everything you'd expect in a cable system, but not much more. We saw no content exclusive to U-verse and no extremely "long tail" or specialized content--you won't find a "Knitting Channel" among its offerings. At least for now, U-verse programming seems designed to appeal to mainstream audiences. U-verse video looked clean and consistent; we noticed no jitter or pixelation on any channel, though our host said that he had seen a couple of brief episodes of pixelation in the fortnight since his service began.