AT&T uses low-income angle for franchise laws

AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre told an audience in Detroit that the company will spend about $4.6 billion on its IPTV service, Project Lightspeed, which by that time should reach 19 million homes, 5.5 million of which will be low income. The cable industry has accused AT&T and other telcos of wanting to circumvent existing franchise laws for the cable industry so that they could strategically launch IPTV services in wealthy areas and not low income areas. AT&T's pledge may indeed be a sincere one, but if nothing else, it's a good political move during this highly contentious franchise debate. Seats are up for grabs in the House, and while it's not a decisive issue for most voters, it certainly will be one when it comes time for telecoms to open their purse strings for supportive politicians.

While the cynical approach is an easier one to swallow, it could be the company sees a market for low-income families looking for a replacement to the fast fading analog TV service, set for extinction in the near future. Whitacre also announced plans to use WildBlue's satellite service to extend its network into rural areas where its vast DSL network won't reach. However, at 512 Mbps IPTV isn't in the cards for those residents.

For more on AT&T's IPTV moves:
- see this press release from AT&T
- check out this press release from WildBlue

PLUS: AT&T doesn't have all its TV eggs in one basket: Have you heard of Homezone? It's a satellite-based, interactive TV service AT&T has quietly tested in tandem with Project Lightspeed/U-Verse. While it's not IPTV, it does sound similarly interactive. Article

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