AT&T fends off Netflix, enters monitoring market
AT&T has joined the rush of pay TV companies establishing their own on-demand libraries in an attempt to counter Netflix and other over the top competitors. Separately, the company is also set to enter the broadband-based security and monitoring service market, relying on products and support supplied by Cisco.
AT&T is calling the movie library service Screen Pack. The company will charge U-verse customers $5 a month, a few dollars less than Netflix’s monthly fee, for open access to about 1,500 titles currently in the company’s library. The service will complement traditional on-demand, with its per-title rental (or purchase) fees.
Access is directly through U-verse on TV, through U-verse.com on computers, or the U-verse app on mobile devices.
AT&T said it is starting U-verse Screen Pack with movies from major studios, and will add more titles on an ongoing basis. To whet customers’ appetites, the company is offering a free preview through Jan. 13.
“We know customers have more options than ever before to watch their favorite movies, and U-verse Screen Pack gives them a convenient and valuable way to access a large variety of movie titles, whether it’s on the device in their hand or on their big screen TV,” said Jeff Weber, president of content and advertising sales, AT&T Home Solutions. “Our customers have told us they want subscription on demand services and we’re delivering. Screen Pack, along with our On Demand library, gives customers a flexible and more compelling movie experience, where and when they want it.”
Also, AT&T is set to begin offering a set of broadband-based security, monitoring and automation services. The company said it will launch AT&T Digital Life in eight markets this March. Another 50 markets are planned for 2013.
In a separate announcement, Cisco said will provide the Digital Life control panel and back-office provisioning and applications life-cycle management system.
Customers will be able to monitor and manage home systems using a smartphone, tablet or PC from virtually anywhere. Connected devices include video cameras, security systems, controllers for lights and heating/cooling systems, moisture/water detection and water shut-off, door locks and others.
The Digital Life controller wirelessly manages connected devices throughout the home by integrating AT&T software with Cisco Z-Wave communications radios. Where other service providers tend to rely on IP-based systems, AT&T and Cisco have included provisions for control using AT&T’s 3G wireless network.
The Digital Life controller, built by Cisco, comprises the following key hardware and software components:
- Five radios (one-way and two-way communications radios, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and 3G) to support a variety of sensors, keypads and cameras
- OSGi software framework to streamline new services such as energy management
- Power management to support up to a 24-hour backup diagnostics
- Home Plug AV to communicate with devices over the in-home power grid.
Separately, AT&T has introduced a few more apps, including:
- Pix & Flix, which allows U-verse customers to share photos from their mobile phones or personal Facebook account onto the TV screen. The view is customizable, so users can display photos as a single page or in slideshow mode.
- With Twonky Beam, customers can “beam” the video on their smartphone or tablet to the TV screen. The app lets them send their favorite video clips from their mobile devices to the U-verse TV receiver and watch them on TV.