AT&T, the new parent of BellSouth customers in North Carolina, is moving closer to launching television and other digital product offerings in its service areas across the state.
$350 million closer.
On Tuesday, AT&T disclosed plans to spend some $350 million over several years to upgrade its networks for broadband and Internet-based technologies. Among those services is TV delivered through Internet Protocol technology. The IPTV service is being positioned by AT&T as a competitor for cable TV and other offerings such as satellite.
AT&T described the TV service as “cutting-edge.” It is rolling out the IP-based TV service called AT&T U-verse in selected markets around the country. So far the offering is available in 23 markets.
However, no timeline was disclosed for the rollout of service.
“Today focused on the infrastructure,” said Clifton Metcalf, a longtime executive with BellSouth who now works for AT&T, in an interview with WRAL Local Tech Wire. “This is the groundwork.”
U-verse offers up to 300 channels, digital video recording, video on demand, and high definition.
When any North Carolina market will receive the IPTV and other digital offerings will hinge in part on deployment in Atlanta, where BellSouth where had its headquarters. “Atlanta will be the first southeast market,” another spokesperson for BellSouth said. “No announcement has been made yet.” AT&T acquired BellSouth last year.
Long before the acquisition, however, BellSouth put in place an Internet Protocol-based network to support high-speed services such as digital subscriber lines.
AT&T executives and numerous state officials gathered in Raleigh for the announcement of the infrastructure investment.
"North Carolina has long been a state whose leaders have understood the wisdom of embracing advances in technology," said Cynthia Marshall, president of AT&T North Carolina. “Today, North Carolinians are reaping some of the rewards of that foresight.”
Marshall was acknowledging legislation passed by the General Assembly that enables the establishment of video service franchises on a statewide rather than community basis. Backers of the bill said it is designed to increase competition for services such as cable TV.
"We look forward to delivering the most advanced technology available in video, voice and Internet services to North Carolina," Marshall said. "Consumers will see a new world of communications and entertainment."
According to Metcalf, passage of the bill “made this investment possible.”
Time Warner, which offers cable service in many markets also serviced by AT&T, said that competition was “welcome.”
“It really comes as no surprise,” Time Warner said in a statement. “When the General Assembly passed the Video Services Competition Act last year, this opened up the door for competition. We welcome the competition and will continue to provide our customers with new and innovative products, bundling of products at great prices and the best customer service.”