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AT&T lets mobile phones control your television


AT&T Inc. is offering subscribers a new kind of TV remote control: their cell phones.

The company said it would begin on Tuesday offering its Homezone customers the ability to control their digital video recorders through Web-enabled phones. The interface allows cell phone users to remotely schedule or delete recordings from their set-top boxes connected to satellite television service.

The downloadable programming was also being expanded to include 12,000 programs from Akimbo, ranging from movies to concerts to how-to videos. AT&T previously had content agreements with Yahoo Inc. and Movelink.

Homezone is a $9.99-per-month service that uses a set-top box to help deliver content over the Internet to televisions, including on-demand movies, caller ID and photos stored on the home computer. The company will not disclose how many subscribers Homezone has, but the service has far broader reach than U-verse, the premium service AT&T hopes will help it eventually win back cable customers.

AT&T is still slowly expanding U-verse, but the rollout has been delayed because of software difficulties with the service delivered over a high-speed Internet connection. AT&T said it would begin offering U-verse in Dallas-Fort Forth on Tuesday, its 14th market for the service.

Patrick Comack, an analyst with Zachary Investment Research, said the Homezone box, made by 2Wire Inc., is convergence technology strong enough to allow AT&T to compete with cable providers, but in the long term, the success might breed other challenges.

“There’s going to be a lot of Homezone boxes, and it’s going to create a problem when AT&T wants to migrate them to U-verse down the road,” he said.

AT&T offers Homezone to customers it shares with EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network in the 13 states where AT&T had high-speed Internet service before it completed the acquisition of BellSouth late last year. Former BellSouth customers, who get bundled television service through DirectTV Group


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