AT&T's U-Verse connects wirelessly to TVs

AT&T Inc.'s U-Verse TV service is going wireless - inside the home. Its new set-top boxes will use the home's Wi-Fi to get their TV programming, with no need for a coaxial cable.

That means TV sets can be moved from room to room and still work.

"You could move your U-Verse to the patio for the football game if the weather's nice or to the guest room if you have guests coming in," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer.

That's not really why AT&T developed it, though. The company was looking for a way to cut installation time and cost, Christopher said. With wireless boxes, installers won't need to run or drill through walls.

U-Verse is delivered with Internet technology rather than standard cable technology. That makes it easier for AT&T to send the signal wirelessly. Other, smaller phone companies have used set-top boxes for a few years.

The service uses standard Wi-Fi and has about the same range. The boxes will be available starting next week for a one-time fee of $49, plus the standard monthly $7 box rental fee. They're made by Cisco Systems Inc.

A Wi-Fi hotspot can serve up to two set-top boxes wirelessly. A home can have two more set-top boxes, but they would have to be wired up, since the hotspot has limited capacity. All four could show high-definition programming simultaneously.

AT&T Inc. sells U-Verse in areas where it's the local-phone company. It has 3.6 million subscribers, making it the eighth-largest pay-TV provider in the U.S.


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