AT&T U-verse to be offered in area in summer

AT&T U-verse to be offered in area in summer

CHAMPAIGN – AT&T expects to begin offering its U-verse suite of television, telephone and broadband internet services this summer to selected areas in Champaign, Urbana, Savoy and Danville.

AT&T officials Marc Blakeman and John Quinn explained the new service – which they tout as a price-competitive alternative to cable television – Wednesday afternoon to the Champaign-Urbana Cable Television and Telecommunications Commission.

"We hope to launch this summer in the central Illinois market, and we will be continuing to build out for two years after we launch," Blakeman said. He said AT&T will also provide U-verse in Decatur and Springfield.

He declined to say what specific areas in local communities will receive U-verse and what areas won't get it, saying the information is proprietary. Under the Illinois Video Competition Law, AT&T is not required to serve the entire community, he said.

Rick Atterberry, chairman of the commission, said that while state law might not require it, one of the commission's top concerns "is to be sure all of the community is being treated fairly." By not sharing its planned service area, AT&T isn't helping the commission, he said.

AT&T will pay 1 percent of its revenues collected in Champaign to the city to help pay for its Public Educational and Government station, Channel 5.

Urbana will get 2 percent of AT&T U-verse revenues generated in the city because Urbana currently has a 2 percent PEG fee in place, Blakeman said.

In Champaign, Urbana and Savoy, AT&T has over the past six months installed over 60 "video ready access devices," which are large four-foot high and wide boxes that can serve between 200 and 800 residences with U-verse, Blakeman said.

Another 32 devices will be installed locally this year, he said. Twenty such boxes are in place in Danville.

Bakeman said AT&T will charge $49 a month for U-family, which will offer 70 television channels, or U-100, which will include 100 channels. That price includes a digital video recorder and a set-top box.

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