AT&T is Delivering the Digital Lifestyle ? From 3 Screens

It’s no longer the digital home – it’s the digital lifestyle.

And when it comes to communications and entertainment, integration is becoming increasingly important to consumers who want to enjoy the benefits of anytime, anywhere communications on virtually any device.

Today, communications and entertainment are, for the most part, accessed separately. The TV uses one network—typically either cable or satellite; the computer uses another access point; and the wireless phone relies on yet another platform.

But in the near future, the lines between networks and access technologies will be blurred for AT&T customers. Consumers can use their high speed Internet account to access all types of information and entertainment, while they can also access much of that content using a wireless phone.

Consumers are demanding seamless transition between services. They want integration between voice, video, and data. A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a childhood friend who said “I want to be able to get my phone, high speed internet connection, cable, and wireless service on one bill from one provider and I want to be able to use the services interchangeably.” The future is now and AT&T is on a fast track to make this a reality for folks like you and me.

AT&T hopes to widely deploy a revolutionary video offering, AT&T U-verse TV. U-verse TV, which is Internet Protocol-based TV (IPTV), will bring a new entertainment experience to customers.  It will allow for multiple video windows even if you don’t have picture-in-picture functions on your TV, a digital video recorder function where viewers can pause, fast forward and record live TV. Viewers will also be able to watch a recorded program in any room. For example, you can pause the program you’re watching in your living room and pick it up right where you left off in your bedroom. You can customize the channel line up so that it is easy to find and view your favorite programs and by using the search menu, users can search shows whether live TV or video on demand by time, channel, title or even actor. You’ll be able to access photos, music, games and more from your PC and eventually program your TV directly from your wireless phone. The possibilities are endless.

Of course this doesn’t mean that all of these functions will be available to everyone overnight. It takes time to upgrade the network and build-out the infrastructure needed to provide these services. AT&T has made a commitment to reach 50% of its customers through year end 2008. In addition, the Chairman and CEO of AT&T, Mr. Edward Whitacre, made an announcement in May at the Detroit Economic Club on the companies commitment to reach 5.5 million low income homes as part of the initial deployment.

The digital lifestyle is here and I’m excited about the possibilities. However in order to provide these services to customers like you and I, policy needs to be changed that encourages the deployment of Internet-based TV services like U-verse and promotes additional innovation. Other states including Indiana, Kansas, Texas and California have passed legislation that allows for competitors to enter the video/cable market. I’d like to add Michigan to this list. After all, my childhood friend and others are demanding choice and we deserve it.