AT&T Broadband Gives Way to Comcast

AT&T Broadband, which serves millions of U.S. cable television and high-speed Internet customers, officially changed its name to Comcast today.

The switch comes three months after Comcast paid $45 billion for the unit and is buttressed by a multimedia ad campaign featuring Tour de France champ and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

But more than establish the Philadelphia company’s name, the media blitz sets the stage for new high-definition TV (HDTV) and video-on-demand (VOD) offerings designed to outmuscle communications providers such as RCN Communications and satellite provider EchoStar.

HDTV will be available in Connecticut by year’s end, and will require users to rent a set-top box to handle the signals, the company said.

VOD service will be rolled out to customers in New England over the next several months. Comcast said it will feature hundreds of movies, as well as free programs sports, lifestyle, children’s and news programs, which viewers can access anytime.

Similar to the TiVo service, Comcast’s VOD can be instantly paused, rewound and fast-forwarded via the customer’s cable remote control and select programs can be stored for up to 24 hours for repeat viewing.

On the broadband side, Comcast earlier this month when it struck a deal with AT&T to allow users to continue using their e-mail addresses.

Millions of users fumed at the prospect of having their address switched yet again because of mergers in the industry. Many users previously had addresses before AT&T bought the franchise and were tired of not being the masters of their domain.

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