By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – A new agreement clears the way for another competitor to enter the Tupelo market as a television provider.
AT&T Mississippi has cleared hurdles with the city of Tupelo to begin offering U-Verse, a digital high-speed Internet, phone and television service that also offers TV programming on tablets and mobile devices.
The council agreed to a video services contract this week, similar to an agreement between the city and Comcast.
Discussion with the city to offer the service began nearly seven months ago and requires AT&T to pay a video fee, the same 2 percent of gross revenues in the area that Comcast currently pays.
Gunner Goad, regional director of external affairs for AT&T Mississippi, said consumers soon will have another choice when deciding to purchase television services, along with Internet and phone options.
Competition for Comcast, DirectTV and Dish Network television channel providers in Tupelo also could have an indirect benefit.
“The thing we’ve noticed in areas we’ve gone in is prices have gone down,” Goad said.
Offered already in more than 50 areas in Mississippi including Oxford, Jackson and DeSoto County, AT&T’s U-Verse allows customers to watch programming on smartphones and iPads, along with providing a variety of features for television, including wireless features.
U-Verse Internet and phone service already exists in limited parts of the city.
Companywide, AT&T reports 4.8 million U-Verse television subscribers in the first quarter of this year.
However, the agreement with the city does not mean the services will begin immediately.
The company will soon begin installing infrastructure for the service throughout the city. The company has invested $975 million in the state from 2010-2012, along with $175 million in the first six months of this year.
However, it’s not clear when the service will be available in the city. Goad couldn’t give a firm answer on when infrastructure installation would be complete.
“We’re going to go as fast as we can to get this out,” he said.