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AT&T Bringing U-Verse To Circuit City, Wal-Mart

Customers in more than 600 retail stores will be able to purchase U-verse TV and Internet services.
AT&T has signed a deal to get its U-verse services sold in more than 600 Wal-Mart and Circuit City retail outlets.

Launched in 2006, U-verse enables AT&T to offer customers IP-based cable television, as well as high-speed Internet connectivity. The service experienced many problems during its initial rollout phases, but the company said the service is on trajectory to reach more than 1 million U-verse TV users by the end of the year.

"We've been expanding U-verse availability at a rapid pace, and now we're expanding the way millions of consumers can learn about the benefits of AT&T U-verse and order the service," said Glenn Lurie, AT&T's president of national distribution, in a statement. "We're excited to add AT&T U-verse to the list of must-have items that consumers can get from these leading retailers. Our services are the perfect fit to accompany and enhance customers' purchases."

The service is available in 13 states, and it will be offered in retail locations. AT&T also said it expects to have more than 30 million people covered by the U-verse network by 2010.

Rival Verizon also offers IPTV services with its fiber-optic based FiOS network, and more than 1.8 million customers receive their broadband services over its fiber network. The ability to offer a bundle of mobile, home Internet, television, and home phone service makes the telecoms a viable threat to the cable companies.

"The cable companies are asleep at the wheel if they don't see the threat from the telecoms," said Phil Doriot, program director for CFI Group.

The increased competition could be one of the major reasons that companies like Comcast and Time Warner are investing heavily in Sprint's WiMax venture. The 4G network has the potential to give the cable companies a wireless offering.