The Associated Press

NEW YORK – AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said Thursday that it’s deploying a new, but long-promised, technology to reach more homes with its , which provides cable TV and higher Internet speeds.

Later Thursday, in averting a standoff over programming fees, AT&T reached a deal to keep channels AMC, IFC and WE tv on the tube for its 2.3 million U-verse subscribers.

Last-minute negotiations with Rainbow Media, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp., resulted in a deal after the previous arrangement expired at midnight on Wednesday.

Both sides had agreed to keep the signals going while talks continued.

A disagreement could have resulted in U-verse TV subscribers in 22 states being unable to watch the season premiere of the popular AMC show "Mad Men" on July 25.

Terms were not released but AT&T said in a statement it was able to reach a "fair deal."

Rainbow said in a statement the deal "truly recognizes the value of our networks," and added the agreement included Sundance Channel.

Rainbow acquired Sundance for $496 million from CBS Corp., NBC Universal and Robert Redford in 2008.

The Dallas-based phone company said it’s deploying "pair bonding" – effectively sending the signal over two phone lines at once – to extend the reach of U-Verse another 1,000 to 2,000 feet from neighborhood nodes, starting Thursday.

(Cynthia Marshall, president of AT&T North Carolina, told The News & Observer in Raleigh in May that the company has some 13,000 U-Verse subscribers in the state.)

The basic range of U-Verse varies widely with the quality of the phone lines, but has been averaging about 3,000 to 4,000 feet, according to customers.

AT&T isn’t saying exactly how many additional homes now have access to U-Verse. The company says pair bonding will help take U-Verse from being accessible to about 24 million homes three months ago to 30 million at the end of 2011. The homes are within the 22-state area in which AT&T has local-phone coverage.

In 2007, AT&T said it would introduce pair bonding in 2008. It didn’t explain the delay, but Randy Tomlin, senior vice president of field operations, said the company is now confident in the technology.

To make U-Verse accessible in an area, AT&T has to pull optical fiber into it and install boxes known as "VRADs." Pair bonding represents a cheap way to expand the availability of the service compared with installing more VRADs.

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