AT&T (NYSE: T) is the first U.S. pay TV provider to offer subscribers set-tops that don't require technicians to drill holes in walls, deploying a wireless box from Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) that relies on WiFi.
The set-top vendor's ISB7005 wireless set-top receives programming delivered from its VEN401 Wireless Access Point. The Wireless Access Point can deliver programming to up to two wireless set-tops, which could allow a subscriber with U-verse installed in the family room to access subscription video programming in a bedroom or the kitchen without requiring a technician to install additional outlets.
The wireless set-tops could allow AT&T to reduce labor costs since it can reduce the amount of time technicians spend at each home that requests a U-verse install. The boxes are also another marketing tool AT&T could use to woo customers from rivals such as Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV).
After hitting U-verse subscribers who want the wireless box with a one-time fee of $49, AT&T is leasing the wireless set-tops to subscribers for $7 monthly, which is the same fee it charges for its standard IPTV set-tops.
AT&T is the first distributor to use the wireless set-tops for its IPTV service, but Cisco is pitching similar set-tops to other customers. "Cisco was selected as the sole provider of this technology for AT&T, however this is not an exclusive contract. Cisco will continue to pursue interests in our wireless TV solution from other wireline service providers in North America, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Asia," said Cisco public relations manager Sara Cicero.