AT&T hits high despite slow U-verse bow

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NEW YORK -- Shares of AT&T Corp. hit a 52-week high Monday as the company's third-quarter financials exceeded Wall Street expectations.

However, the company also provided an update on the early rollout trends of its U-verse video service, which disappointed some.

In late June, AT&T started the commercial launch of U-verse services, which also include high-speed Internet and other products, in San Antonio, Texas, and it continued the rollout during the third quarter.

"The initial response has been strong, with customer totals at approximately 3,000, or 10% penetration of homes marketed to," the company said Monday. AT&T added that it expects the second U-verse launch to come in Houston in late November, where a trial already is under way.

The pilot also includes high-definition TV service, which AT&T also expects to launch in San Antonio in late November.

The telecom firm projected Monday that it will launch U-verse services in about 15 markets across the 13 states in which it traditionally has offered wireline service, by year's end. AT&T had predicted a reach into 15-20 markets by year's end.

The company said Monday that all market launches this year will include HDTV service offerings and follow the San Antonio model, where offerings have been geographically selective rather than citywide.

Total AT&T video customers, including its joint venture with EchoStar Communications and U-verse, are 586,000, up 53,000 in the third quarter.

Analysts have said that they will follow AT&T's success with the U-verse video service closely as it uses Internet-based rather than standard cable technology for delivery.

AT&T shares closed up 0.8% on Monday at $34.71 after going as high as $34.85. Their previous year-high was $34.76.
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