AT&T U-Verse offering 1 Year FREE of DISH Network

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Tom Keating
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AT&T U-Verse offering 1 Year FREE of DISH Network

Yesterday, I was in Best Buy (Norwalk, CT store) walking past the TV section when I was approached by a guy standing by a table. He handed me some AT&T U-Verse literature and proceeded to pitch me on signing up for U-Verse. I mentioned that I didn't live in Norwalk, he asked where I did live and then he told me they didn't offer U-Verse in my area yet.

However, he stated that AT&T is offering a nice incentive - 1 year FREE of DISH Network service if I signed up now for AT&T U-Verse.

Correction - 5/7/07: The offer is good provided you are in an area where U-Verse is available but not yet on your street or road yet. Thus, the free DISH Network offer has to be in an area where U-Verse is planned to be installed shortly. It's also an 18 minimum month contract - so it's 12 months free, 6 months paid before you can cancel. This is still a sweet deal, available to perhaps millions of customers within the current U-verse coverage area.

I said, "Well, what if in one year from now you still aren't offering U-Verse in my neighborhood? Do I still get free DISH Network service?" He didn't really give a good answer to the question, but did say that AT&T is going gangbusters to rollout U-Verse in Fairfield County, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation and also very densly populated. So I asked "So you're focusing on deploying in Norwalk and Stamford first is my guess, correct?" He responded, "That's exactly right. We're targetting Norwalk and Stamford first, but plan on quickly moving to other towns." He briefly mentioned New York - not sure if he meant NYC, but that would put AT&T in Verizon's home turf with their FiOS service.

I expressed my skepticism that AT&T would reach their goal of 18 million homes back in March. However, when compared to the $20 billion Verizon is spending to rollout their FiOS fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service, AT&T's fiber/copper-hybrid rollout is a bargain. AT&T can more quickly recoup their investment faster than Verizon since Verizon has to dig fiber all the way to the home where as AT&T only needs to draw fiber to the neighborhood and then use copper the rest of the way to the home.

As I wrote previously, this hybrid fiber/copper approach gives AT&T a 20Mbps+ link to customers, enough to offer high-speed Internet, VoIP, and the company's IPTV service. The problem is getting towns to grant public right of ways for these massive 52B boxes, which hold DSLAMS, batteries, and cooling gear in rugged, weatherproof cases. Many towns objected or wanted AT&T to sign video franchise agreements. Lawsuits were filed, including cable companies that want to classify U-verse service as a "cable service" to force AT&T to abide by the same build-out rules, which has drastically affected U-verse deployment . In addition, the IPTV service uses proprietary set-top boxes from Microsoft, which had their own share of problems - mostly software related.

What is interesting is that today I read about Microsoft and Yahoo are in talks for a buyout or merger to better complete with Google. So let me get this straight. AT&T and DISH Network have a deal. AT&T and Yahoo already have a close partnership deal with AT&T Yahoo DSL. AT&T is using Microsoft's software for their U-Verse set-top box.

Let me summarize:
AT&T - DISH Network
AT&T - Yahoo
AT&T - Microsoft
and now potentially
Microsoft - Yahoo

Which makes it a AT&T,  DISH Network, Microsoft, Yahoo conglomerate! That just might be big enough to take on Google. Might need to add in Walmart. Maybe Home Depot as well (just to make it a fair fight).

The brochure he gave me has 4 TV pricing models, titled U100 (110 channels), U200 (190 channels, 34 digital music channels), U300 (240 channels, 31 premium movie channels), and U400 (300 channels, 49 premium movie channels). For the data portion they have Express (up to 1.5Mbps), Pro (up to 3.0Mbps), and Elite (up to 6.0Mbps). Prices range from $59/month to $129/month. At $59/month for 110 channels and 1.5Mbps bandwidth is a steal! The brochure states you can record up to 4 programs at the same time. Wow! My DirecTV TiVO receiver can only do 2 programs simultaneously.

I asked the U-Verse rep about getting voice using U-Verse and he said you could bundle a traditional AT&T landline. I couldn't believe this, so I checked AT&T's website and this link says:

"Can I order phone service with AT&T U-verse?"
Answer: Please visit for information on classic landline services and calling features.

What the hell is that? I'm getting high-speed internet from AT&T and yet I still need a separate landline? I could of course separately sign-up for AT&T CallVantage, a VoIP service, and use it over the broadband connection, but then I lose any sort of bundling or pricing reductions. This is ridiculous and once again reiterates my rant about AT&T and all the carriers doing a terrible job of bundling their services.

In any event, I'm not sure if  the 1 year free DISH Network service is being offered nationwide, but if you're interested in FREE DISH Network service, it can hurt to head over to your local Best Buy and see if an AT&T U-verse rep is there. Or you can call 877-MY-UVERSE.

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