AT&T announced Wednesday that its video service, U-verse, was being introduced in Hall County.
The service, designed to compete with cable and satellite TV, offers up to 360 channels of television and music programming.
The company, citing competitive reasons, declined to say where the service is available. However, a check using telephone numbers indicated that the service is not currently available in the central portion of the city of Gainesville, but is available in the Flowery Branch area.
U-verse operates on an Internet protocol and is delivered over AT&T’s existing network used for telephone and DSL services. A company spokeswoman said they have invested in an upgrade of the system that brings a high speed fiber optic network closer to the individual residential customer.
"Our customers can choose from several combinations of TV and Internet packages," said Kristi Turner of AT&T. The basic service with TV alone starts at $49.
U-verse was launched in Atlanta last year. The company plans to offer the service throughout the state and pushed for a statewide cable franchising bill that gives it a franchise in any community and sets the terms for franchise fees.
Turner said the service offers features not available from other providers, including the ability to create customized on-screen news, sports and weather information.
She said the service offers many advantages which she describes as "cool" including more than 100 high-definition channels.
"We’re able to bundle home phone, Internet and TV, allowing those services to work together, which is a function of the technology," Turner said. Among the features is the ability to program a digital video recorder from a telephone. In addition, recorded programs can be shown on any TV in the household.
"So, if you started watching in the living room and wanted to continue in the bedroom, you can pause the program and resume it elsewhere," she said.
"Today’s launch of AT&T U-verse reflects our commitment to make the investments necessary to bring consumers across Gainesville a new era of true video competition," said Paul Chambers, regional manager for AT&T. "We are thrilled to offer this innovative video choice to Gainesville customers. Local residents have asked for more choices in television service and today we’re delivering."
The availability of U-verse will also bring the availability of faster Internet service.
The service has downstream speeds up to 18 Mbps. All AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet packages also include wireless home or office networking and access to AT&T’s Wi-Fi network with unlimited connectivity at nearly 20,000 hot spot locations.
AT&T will now head-to-head with Charter Communications, the county’s largest cable TV provider and Comcast, which operates systems in North and South Hall.
Both cable providers are offering Internet service, as well as local telephone using the Internet protocol.
In areas where U-verse is not currently available, AT&T has been offering a television package through a satellite provider.